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Steve Smith's worrying truth amid Adam Zampa response to unwanted Aussie record

Zampa's heroics came as Steve Smith's struggles with the bat continued.

Pictured left to right, Adam Zampa and Steve Smith.

Adam Zampa and Australia's bowlers have bounced back in emphatic style after a crushing series-clinching win over New Zealand in the second T20 at Eden Park on Friday night. Zampa took the superb figures of 4-34 in a 73-run victory for Australia that threw up more questions about Steve Smith's place in the side.

Tasmanian quick Nathan Ellis also picked up two wickets and the economical Josh Hazlewood (1-12) helped bowl the Kiwis out for 102, after the Aussies batted first and made 174. The big win came with three overs to spare and was vindication for Zampa and an Aussie bowling attack that went into the match after setting some unwanted cricket history. The first match - won after a superb knock from Mitch Marsh and a match-defining late cameo from Tim David - saw the Aussie bowlers concede more than 200 runs for the fourth straight T20 match.

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That had never happened for Australia before in international T20 cricket history and Zampa had unfortunately been involved in all of those matches. Remarkably, the Aussies still won three out of the four matches but Zampa went for figures of 3-26, 1-39, 1-65 (all off four overs) and 0-42 off three overs.

In the second game of the three-match T20 series, Zampa returned to the sort of form that's seen him become the nation's premier spin bowler in white-ball cricket. Zampa's four wickets included clean-bowling Josh Clarkson and Adam Milne in consecutive balls to scuttle the Kiwis' chances.

Australia's attack in the field was typified by returning gloveman Matthew Wade, who took a classic catch after sprinting for Will Young's skied effort. Wade was at full stretch when the ball landed safely in his gloves, leaving the Kiwis reeling at 2-14 at the time.

"I had a great view ... I was at midwicket, I was meant probably meant to run for it but backed away," Zampa admitted after the match. "It was a great catch, probably one of the best ones I've seen from a wicketkeeper like that."

Apart from Wade's superb catch, it was Zampa's emphatic return to form and Hazlewood's run-constricting precision fast bowling that put New Zealand under the pump. From 2-14, the Black Caps slumped further to 4-29 and sunk without trace after Zampa's quick dismissals.

New Zealand - already without Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell - rested Rachin Ravindra due to a sore knee and then lost opener Devon Conway as a batting option after a wicketkeeping injury that saw him hand over the gloves to Finn Allen. Hazlewood claimed the key wicket of opener Allen in the first over, before producing a rare T20 maiden in the powerplay.

Glenn Phillips (42 off 35) was the Kiwis best with the bat, playing an anchoring role before becoming Zampa's third victim, caught at long-on. "It was not an easy pitch to start on," Phillips said, "and the line that Australia bowled was incredibly hard to get away".

Australia got off to a flying start with the bat at Eden Park after some typically big-hitting from Travis Head (45 off 22) saw the visitors race to 2-103 off eight overs. The quick start came after Steve Smith made an unconvincing 11 in his return to open the batting for Australia, before falling lbw to Lockie Ferguson (4-12 off 3.5 overs) after being overlooked for the first match.

Seen here, Travis Head batting for Australia in the second T20 against New Zealand.
Travis Head top scored for Australia in the second T20 against New Zealand. Pic: Getty

Cricket fans question Steve Smith's place in T20 side

Smith, without an Indian Premier League contract, needed runs to prove his worth for June's T20 World Cup, especially after coach Andrew McDonald admitted his display in Auckland could "dictate what happens" with his place in the side. With David Warner, Travis Head and Marsh all firing and the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Josh Inglis and David all firmly cemented in the Aussie batting line-up, fans are again questioning Smith's spot, with these matches against New Zealand his last opportunity to impress before the World Cup.

Smith wasn't the only Aussie batter to come away disappointed in game two though, with Maxwell (six), Inglis (five) and Wade (one) also going cheaply. Marsh made an important 26 before holing out to Trent Boult at long-on, with skipper Pat Cummins playing a vital late cameo to give his side a respectable target to chase. Cummins blasted 28 off 22 runs, with David also adding 17 and Ellis 11 not out, before the Aussie bowlers completed the rout.

The result means game three, also at Auckland's Eden Park, is a dead rubber. Australia's attentions after that third and final T20 match will then turn to the first of two Tests against the Black Caps, starting at Wellington's Basin Reserve on Thursday.

with AAP

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