New Zealand spinners restrict Australia at empty Sydney stadium

Sydney (AFP) –


New Zealand spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi helped restrict Australia to 258 for seven in the first one-day international in the eerie setting of an empty Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday.

Cricket Australia barred spectators from the match in response the coronavirus pandemic, leading to the strange sight of players acknowledging milestones to empty grandstands.

It was also revealed earlier that Australian fast bowler Kane Richardson was in quarantine and had been tested for the virus after falling unwell.

After Australian skipper Aaron Finch won the toss and chose to bat, the home side were at one stage looking at a score in excess of 300 following a superb opening partnership from Finch and David Warner.

But once Warner (67) and Finch (60) were dismissed, the Australian innings lost momentum and New Zealand clawed their way back into the game, despite a late flourish from Marnus Labuschagne, who made 56 from just 52 deliveries.

Finch had a lucky break when given not out caught behind when on three off seamer Trent Boult.

New Zealand opted not to review the decision, with replays subsequently showing the ball had grazed the top edge of the bat.

Finch had another piece of luck on 23 when he was given not out leg before to left arm spinner Santner to a ball that would have hit leg stump.

He and Warner took full advantage and looked relatively untroubled against the New Zealand attack.

Warner brought up a chanceless half-century but soon began to struggle when New Zealand's fastest bowler, Lockie Ferguson, came round the wicket.

Warner eventually fell when he was beaten by pace and sliced a Ferguson thunderbolt to mid-on.

Santner struck next when Finch got a faint edge to keeper Tom Latham to leave Australia 145 for two.

He then rocked the home side when he bowled Steve Smith (14) with the addition of only one run.

Leg-spinner Sodhi was expensive early but he adjusted his length and claimed the next three wickets to give New Zealand hope of chasing down the Australian total under the SCG lights.