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Steve Smith's T20 Cricket World Cup hopes take crushing new blow against New Zealand

Smith's hopes of cementing his spot in Australia's T20 World Cup squad have taken another brutal blow.

Steve Smith flopped at opener for the second T20 match in a row against New Zealand, in a blow to his World Cup hopes. Pic: Getty

Steve Smith's T20 Cricket World Cup hopes have been dealt another blow after the veteran Aussie batter fell cheaply for the second game in a row against New Zealand at Eden Park. In what shapes as his final T20 audition before June's World Cup, Smith failed to take advantage of the absence of regular opener David Warner, after being dismissed for just four runs during Australia's rain-affected 27-run victory (DLS method) on Sunday.

Warner made 32 in the first game in Wellington but did not feature in game two and returned to Australia before Sunday's dead rubber game three to rest up ahead of his Indian Premier League commitments. The IPL is a key lead-up tournament for June's T20 World Cup, but Smith does not yet have a contract with a franchise.

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Having failed to take his opportunity in game two after being dismissed for 11, Smith was again left disappointed after edging a ball from Kiwi quick Adam Milne. It presented wicketkeeper Tim Seifert with an easy catch and saw a glum Smith trudge back to the pavilion after just three balls.

Smith needed runs to prove his worth for the T20 World Cup, especially after coach Andrew McDonald admitted his displays in Auckland could "dictate what happens" with his place in the side. With Warner, Travis Head and Mitch Marsh all firing and the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Josh Inglis and Tim David all firmly cemented in the Aussie batting line-up, Smith may have squandered his last chance. That was certainly the opinion of many fans on social media.

Travis Head rides luck to fire for Aussies

Smith's latest flop with the bat came after New Zealand won the toss and sent the Aussies in to bat, having already lost the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy. Smith's opening batting partner Head raced to 32 (off 28 balls) before the second rain break halted proceedings. Head was put down a couple of times in the outfield after some sloppy fielding from the home side.

Matt Short came in at first drop after Smith's wicket and did his chances of securing a T20 World Cup spot no harm with an entertaining 27, off just 11 deliveries. Following the two previous dropped chances to remove Head, the Kiwis finally had reason to celebrate after Short tried to go large and skied one to Seifert.

Pictured left to right, Aussie cricket stars Matt Short and Travis Head.
Matt Short and Travis Head got the Aussies off to a solid start before rain halted their third T20 international against New Zealand. Pic: Getty

Australia were 2-72 when the first drops of rain came down, forcing the players to return to the rooms and the ground staff to come out with the covers. Head resumed on 31 after a short delay, with Maxwell his partner at the crease. Maxwell was also dropped in the outfield by Mark Chapman after smashing a delivery from Ish Sodhi towards the boundary at long-off.

The Aussie batter made the Kiwis pay for the lifeline after the rain break, cracking a six off his first ball, followed by a four in the next over. The big-hitting Maxwell's luck ran out on 20 though when he skied one to Will Young in the outfield to give Josh Clarkson his first T20 international wicket for New Zealand. Maxwell's wicket came just before a long second rain delay, with Australia on 3-95 off 8.3 overs.

Head was out for 33 shortly after the second rain break, caught by Sodhi at short third-man off the bowling of Mitchell Santner. That brought David to the crease to partner Inglis, with the Aussies both hitting big sixes before another frustrating rain delay saw the visitors' innings end prematurely at 4-118.

The Aussies were only able to get in 10.4 overs, meaning the Kiwis were chasing a revised target of 126 off 10 overs. New Zealand never really threatened to win the game after losing the wickets of Finn Allen (13), Young (14) and Seifert (2) cheaply. Glenn Phillips (40 not out) and Chapman (17 not out) put on a solid late cameo but it was too little, too late as the Aussies completed a series sweep.

The result keeps Australia's perfect record in T20 cricket alive at Eden Park, with five wins from outings at the ground. The Aussies will now prepare for a two-Test series against the Kiwis beginning on Thursday at Wellington's Basin Reserve.

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