Australia have wrapped up the T20 series against New Zealand with a comfortable six wicket win at Allan Border Field.
Australia won the toss and elected to field first, sticking with the tactic that worked so well for them in the first match.
The tactic worked well again, with Megan Schutt bowling beautifully with the new ball and taking a wicket in each of her first two overs. Schutt’s tactic of bowling stump-to-stump to Sophie Devine with protection on the leg side worked perfectly, as the dangerous opener holed out to deep backward square.
Dismissing Devine’s opening partner proved far more difficult, as Suzie Bates put on a show, ending up with 77 off 52. Given two lives early thanks to Delissa Kimmince and Ellyse Perry dropping catches, Bates targeted Australia’s spinners, smashing seven of her eleven fours, and both of her sixes, off the Aussie tweakers.
New Zealand looked on track for at least 160 when Bates got out, but a fantastic fightback from Australia’s bowlers meant that the last five overs only cost Australia 22 runs.
Player of the match Schutt ended with 3/15 off 4 overs and was pleased with her team’s fightback.
“I think we pegged them back beautifully. The first 10 [overs] was a little bit up and down, but we had some really good death bowling,” Schutt said.
“In T20 cricket, one batter can take it away from you, so we knew that if we could get a couple of wickets in the middle, we could really squeeze them at the end.”
Australia started slowly with the bat, but some loose bowling from Sophie Devine and Lea Tahuhu opened up the floodgates for a comfortable chase.
In what appeared to be a set plan, Tahuhu tried to shorten up Ash Gardner early on, but the Aussie #3 responded beautifully, hooking and pulling well, and cutting when Tahuhu strayed wide.
Gardner’s innings was short and sweet due to a controversial run out decision, in which New Zealand keeper Katey Martin seemingly dislodged the bail with her torso.
That didn’t stop the Aussies though, as Alyssa Healy and Elyse Villani made light work of the total.
Villani was particularly strong sweeping the ball, with her combination of conventional and reverse sweeps often forcing the New Zealand spinners to drop their length back, which resulted in some short deliveries for Villani to pounce on.
The difference, in the end, was Australia’s strong middle order, and according to Megan Schutt, it’s this batting depth that allows the top order to bat freely.
“It’s such a deep batting order, and it’s something we pride ourselves on,” she said.
“To have Pez [Ellyse Perry] there at number seven is almost relieving.”
Another feature for the Aussies was Meg Lanning’s bowling changes, with only Megan Schutt’s new ball spell lasting more than a solitary over.
The performance wasn’t without flaw, though. Australia will be disappointed with the multiple dropped catches and misfields that kept New Zealand in the game early. They’ll look to improve in that area going into the third match of the series and beyond.