World champions Australia returned to action in style as they outclassed New Zealand in the 1st of a 3-match women’s T20I at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane on Saturday. Despite not having their star all-rounder Ellyse Perry, Australia sealed a 17-run win on a 2-paced wicket.
Amid uncertainty surrounding the future of broadcast rights, international cricket resumed in style. Led by a well-paced knock from Ashleigh Gardner, Australia posted 138 for 6 and Megan Schutt took a 4-wicket haul to restrict New Zealand to 121 for 7.
It was not an ideal start for the hosts as Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney departed without troubling the scorers much. Captain Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes steadied the ship but hitting the big ones on a 2-paced wicket was difficult. Senior pacer Lea Tahuhu got the big breakthrough when she removed opposition captain Meg Lanning for 24 in the 9th over.
Haynes joined hands with Gardner and kept the scoreboard moving but New Zealand skipper Sophie Devine broke a 35-run stand that was starting to look threatening.
The Gardner onslaught
At 93 for 5 at the end of 16 overs, New Zealand were looking set to restrict Australia to a below-par score but Gardner took on spinner Amelia Kerr and hit 2 big sixes in the 17th over to give the much-needed impetus. Hitting 3 sixes and 6 boundaries, Gardner helped Australia collect 45 runs in the last 4 overs.
New Zealand never got going in their chase as they losing wickets at regular intervals. Devine contributed with the bat as well and Suzie Bates top-scored with 33 but Delissa Kimmince and Schutt picked up 6 wickets between them to bowl the White Ferns out for 121.
Having sealed a 1-0 lead, Australia will be hoping to take an unassailable lead when they face New Zealand on Sunday. Following the T20I series, the two teams will meet for 3 ODis from October 3 to 7 in Brisbane which has the biosecure bubble for the 2 teams.