Australia beat the hosts New Zealand convincingly on the back of Ashleigh Gardner, who smashed an unbeaten 73 off 48 and started the campaign with a six-wicket win in Hamilton.
Asked to bat first, Sophie Devine led New Zealand got off to a steady start, courtesy – Devine and Hayley Jensen. They stitched a 33-run stand inside the powerplay before Jess Jonassen drew the first blood by dismissing Devine for 17 off 22.
Soon after, Jensen joined her as well. Meanwhile, Amy Satterthwaite gave the innings some boost with her 31-ball 40 and added 60 runs along with the young all-rounder Amelia Kerr (20). However, Satterthwaite’s dismissal broke the shackle and a late collapse couldn’t help the host to put up a huge total as they could manage 130 runs in 20 overs. Katey Martin made 1, Maddy Green scored 15 and Brooke Halliday smashed 11 off 8 as well. Jonassen was the pick of the bowler with 3 for 26.
Meg Lanning used as many as six bowlers but Ellyse Perry was not one of them. In her entire T20I career, where she has played 120 T20Is so far before Sunday’s game, she had bowled in 116. There were only 4 games where she didn’t bowl, three of those were against Pakistan in 2014 when she had knee soreness and the fourth one was against Ireland in 2015 as well.
While chasing, Australia’s hope looked in peril when Jess Kerr struck twice and left the mighty Aussies struggling at 14 for 3 in the fourth over. Off-spinner Mackay providing the first breakthrough, dismissing Alyssa Healy to two runs from the first five deliveries before the opener hit straight to Satterthwaite at the cover. And, the next ball witnessed the dismissal of Beth Mooney who went for a duck after getting an edge to first slip. Soon, Rachael Haynes (3) caught at mid-on as well.
However, Meg Lanning steadied the ship with Ashleigh Gardner as they added 48 runs. But that didn’t stay long as Amelia Kerr ended Lanning’s run-a-ball 28 in the 12th over. She got life on 24 when Maddy Green failed to take a catch at long-off, but couldn’t capitalise on it as Green took an easy catch when she was trying to hit down the ground later.
Fifty for Gardner, what a fantastic knock it has been under pressure, 50* from 37 balls 37 balls including 3 fours and 3 sixes.
— Women's CricInsight | #INDvSA | #NZvAUS (@WCI_Official) March 28, 2021
Her dismissal brought Perry in the middle, who was playing her first international game since her hamstring injury against the same opponent during the T20 World Cup. She had an uphill task to do as her team was reduced to 4 for 62, needing 62 from 50 deliveries as well. She took charge and hit the boundary from the very second ball she faced.
On the other end, set Ashleigh Gardner hammered back-to-back sixes off Kerr. Their onslaught alongside strike rotation brought the hope back in the game. Meanwhile, Gardner got a life when she was batting on 30, courtesy Green again and the all-rounder grabbed the chance with both hands. She smashed a fifty off 37 balls and soon paced up things.
Her timely boundaries alongside Perry saw an unbeaten 71-run stand between them. However, Perry smashed back-to-back boundaries in the 18th over which helped them took the team home with 2 overs in hand as well. While Perry remained unbeaten at 23* off 16, it was Ashleigh Gardner who won the ‘Player of the Match’ for her blistering 73* off 48 with 6 fours and 3 sixes.
The second T20I match between New Zealand and Australia will take place on Tuesday.
New Zealand 130/6 in 20 overs (Amy Satterthwaite 40; Jess Jonassen 3-26) lost to Australia 133/4 in 18 overs (Ashleigh Gardner 73*; Jess Kerr 2-17) by six wickets.