Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Ferguson's incredible 4-4-0-3 helps NZ exit T20 World Cup on a high

New Zealand get together after Lockie Ferguson strikes first ball ICC/Getty Images

New Zealand 79 for 3 (Conway 35, Mitchell 12*, Morea 2-4) beat Papua New Guinea 78 (Amini 17, Ferguson 3-0, Southee 2-11, Boult 2-14) by seven wickets

New Zealand signed off a disappointing T20 World Cup 2024 campaign with a dominant win over Papua New Guinea, chasing down a paltry target of 79 with seven wickets and 46 balls to spare at the Brian Lara Stadium, in Tarouba.

The scale of the mismatch was characterised by Lockie Ferguson's figures of 3 for 0 from his four overs. The New Zealand speedster became only the second bowler to bowl four maidens in a T20I fixture after Canada captain Saad Bin Zafar achieved the feat in 2021 when he returned 2 for 0 against Panama.

While Ferguson was sharp and accurate, the moisture in the pitch and what remained in the air from the morning showers that delayed the toss by an hour made it a tough ask for PNG's batters. The weather was a primary reason Kane Williamson inserted the opposition upon winning the toss, who in turn were 16 for 2 after the powerplay.

Charles Amini's 17, the highest score of the innings, came in the most productive stand - 27 for the third wicket with Sese Bau - before he was pinned lbw for Ferguson's second of the innings.

Trent Boult, playing in his last T20 World Cup match, went on to pocket two wickets when he returned to bowl his final two overs at the death. Ish Sodhi, replacing Jimmy Neesham in the XI for his first match of the competition, also picked up a brace, taking the final PNG wickets in the 20th over as they were bowled out with two balls left in their innings.

But PNG were not about to bow out without a fight. Kabua Morea, returning to the XI after playing the opener against West Indies, removed Finn Allen, caught behind, off the second delivery of New Zealand's innings. He then pocketed Rachin Ravindra when the left-hander tried and failed to lift beyond deep midwicket at the start of the fifth over.

Further excitement on the field came when Semo Kamea trapped Devon Conway on the crease. His 35 - which included two fours and three sixes - had, however, taken the sting out of the chase. Conway and Williamson added 34 runs for the third wicket - New Zealand's highest partnership of the tournament.

Williamson and Daryl Mitchell then completed the formalities, scoring the remaining 25 runs from 18 balls to earn New Zealand their second win, consigning PNG to a fourth defeat.

Ferguson in the record books

It began with a wicket: extra pace across Assad Vala that enticed a drive. There was even a bit of extra bounce which only served to make Mitchell's catch at a wide first slip that little bit tougher. From that point on, Ferguson was locked in.

Did he know a place in the record books was in the offing? Probably not. But the movement through the air and off the deck, not to mention the high pace that was always going to ask unanswerable questions to a limited PNG batting line-up, meant Ferguson was likely to emerge with extraordinary figures.

The 33-year-old was primarily over the wicket to the left-handed Bau, who entered the fray upon Vala's dismissal. Having switched to over the wicket midway through his second over (the seventh), Ferguson returned for the 12th from that angle and was immediately rewarded with a delivery into Amini's pads that skidded on with the angle so sharply it was initially given not out on the field.

DRS corrected that error before Ferguson took matters into his own hands by hitting Chad Soper's stumps for his third. Then came two leg byes down to deep third - which did not count against the bowler - and the final three deliveries, which were counted down by those in the commentary box, now fully invested in witnessing history. Kiplin Doriga's mistimed pull almost broke the streak - though it also could have resulted in a catch at mid-off - before the right-hander charged Ferguson's final delivery to no avail.

Ferguson looked a little sheepish as his team-mates filed over to congratulate him. Nevertheless, a forgettable T20 World Cup now has a memorable sidenote.

PNG batters leave unfulfilled

As valiant as PNG's displays have been at their second T20 World Cup, there is good reason to look at their batting and wonder what might have been. Particularly when Allen and Ravindra were snared early.

Signing off with a score of 78, following totals of 95 against Afghanistan and 77 versus Uganda, highlights the limitations of their batters. Even the 136 for 8 against West Indies looked light at the halfway stage, having faced 55 dot balls when setting that evening in Guyana.

Even discounting the 23 scoreless deliveries off Ferguson, they failed to find a run from the 58 balls delivered by the rest of the New Zealand attack. Conditions were not kind to batters throughout, particularly those taking guard against the new ball duo of Boult and Tim Southee on a new track with variable bounce, but more intent could have been shown.

Particularly against Mitchell Santner. The left-arm spinner floated plenty up but conceded just one boundary. Perhaps spooked by Bau lifting Santner into the hands of long on, it took until Santner's final delivery for someone to land one on him, as Doriga smeared a sweep shot to midwicket for four.

Of course, this match does not really qualify as a missed opportunity given New Zealand's undoubted superiority. But it did serve as a reminder of the shortcomings that cost them victory against Uganda and allowed West Indies off the hook.

Kabua Morea's redemption

It was 15 days between appearances at this T20 World Cup for Morea. The left-arm seamer started against West Indies, arriving into the match with the expectation he would be a crutch for the attack over the coming fortnight. He ended up with figures of 0 for 30 from three overs, the last of which went for 13 as Roston Chase profited off a couple of full tosses to take the hosts over the line with an over to spare.

Morea spent the next two matches on the sidelines as PNG opted for a more spin-heavy attack. Conditions dictated as much, but Morea would have every reason to consider himself an unfortunate casualty of this shift having been the side's leading wicket-taker at the 2021 edition.

But here in Tarouba, he seized the opportunity to leave the World Cup on something of a high, returning home with figures of 2 for 4 from 2.2 overs. Allen's hot-headed hack gave him a wicket with the second ball. And having tied Ravindra down for the rest of that first over, the Kiwi No.3 greeted his reintroduction for the fifth over with a desperate charge and swipe that nestled into the hands of Kamea in the deep.

It was at this point that the rain made a return. New Zealand were 20 for 2, level with the five-over par score, which they passed when Williamson punched a single off his first ball. It was the only run off the over, with Morea boasting figures of 2 for 2 from his first two overs. As it turned out the rain did not stop play, either. While not as headline-grabbing as Ferguson's exploits, Morea's 11 dots against an engaging and far more equipped New Zealand batting line-up were equally impressive.

New Zealand 2nd innings Partnerships

1st0DP ConwayFH Allen
2nd20DP ConwayR Ravindra
3rd34KS WilliamsonDP Conway
4th25KS WilliamsonDJ Mitchell

ICC Men's T20 World Cup

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