BLACKCAPS fall one run short in Sydney

New Zealand fell agonisingly short of a first Twenty20 cricket victory over Australia as Brendon McCullum was chopped down by some fielding brilliance at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Chasing 151 to win, New Zealand lost by one run after the New Zealand vice-captain looked set to lead them to victory by slaying 61 off 47 balls before a brilliant Adam Voges catch.

Then, requiring 14 off the final over by man of the match Nathan Bracken, McCullum's elder brother Nathan clouted the final two balls for four and six to leave the tourists stranded on 149 for five. A miserly Bracken conceded just 16 off four overs, including 10 off the final two balls.

New Zealand looked home when Brendon McCullum took 20 off the 17th over bowled by James Hopes, going six, four, four to reach 50 off 41 balls.

With 20 required off the last two, the first ball of Ben Hilfenhaus' over looked destined for another six but Voges snaffled the catch, teetered over the rope, threw the ball up then regathered.

Grant Elliott, James Franklin and Nathan McCullum couldn't quite see New Zealand home, Elliott left 23 not out.

It was the unofficial decider for a tense past fortnight when the Brisbane rain left the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy ODI series tied 2-2.

New Zealand arrived in Sydney with a poor recent Twenty20 record, just one win from their last nine matches, and defeats in both previous two trans-Tasman encounters in the shortest form.

The runchase started badly when debut paceman Peter Siddle removed Brisbane batting hero Martin Guptill, lbw second ball, and Peter Fulton for one when he skied a catch after playing out a maiden from Bracken.

New Zealand were a cautious 27 for two after five overs, but then Neil Broom and McCullum took 16 off one Hilfenhaus over. That included a blistering McCullum six over cover which replays showed bounced just short of the rope.

The pair added 61 off eight overs, Broom hitting 36 off 26 before he skied one, leaving McCullum as the anchor.

The required rate climbed, and a two-run over from Hilfenhaus left New Zealand needing a steep 55 off the last five.

Stand-in Australian captain Brad Haddin batted first on winning the toss on an overcast, cool night and labelled 160 as a par total.

Captain Daniel Vettori led the way for his new-look New Zealand side to keep Australia to 150 for seven, taking one for 23 off four overs and two excellent outfield catches.

Tight bowling from Vettori and an encouraging return for Ian Butler in his first international in four years helped stem the flow as David Hussey topscored with 41 off 39 balls.

The tourists fronted with five Twenty20 international debutants -- Butler, Guptill, Elliott, Broom and Iain O'Brien -- to Australia's three, Callum Ferguson, Siddle and New South Wales allrounder Moises Henriques.

After dangerous opening pair Haddin (15) and David Warner (23) were removed cheaply, Butler and Vettori allowed just 26 runs between the sixth and 10th overs.

Butler's last international was an ODI against Australia in December 2004 but he was on target immediately, bowling the in-form Ferguson with his sixth delivery.

Butler conceded nine off his first two overs, but he was hit for six by Cameron White off his final ball to end with one for 30 off four.

Both sides were understrength from the ODI series; New Zealand without Kyle Mills (achilles tendon) and Ross Taylor (hamstring) while Australia missed captain Ricky Ponting (rested), while vice-captain Michael Clarke (back).

NZPA

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