Australia have defeated New Zealand by six wickets in the first T20 of a three-match series, thanks to a record breaking fifth wicket partnership by Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes.
New Zealand batted first, but got off to a shaky start, with Ellyse Perry dismissing Suzie Bates in just the third over. The wicket came after some tight bowling from left-arm spinner Sophie Molineux and spearhead Megan Schutt, who was more than handy with the new ball.
Sophie Devine batted well to lay a platform for New Zealand, ending with 43 off 33, but the true key for the Kiwis was Katey Martin’s brilliant knock to finish the innings.
Assisted by Bernadine Bezuidenhout, the Kiwi pair scored 16 off the second last over, bowled by Delissa Kimmince, and a whopping 20 off Schutt’s final over of the innings. So clean was Martin’s hitting that it looked at times like an exhibition.
New Zealand had all the momentum going into the innings break, but Alyssa Healy grabbed it right back for the Aussies, striking a boundary on the first ball of the innings. The momentum didn’t last long for the Aussie’s though, as the top order collapsed to 4/45 in the powerplay.
Devine was the chief destroyer, with her combination of good pace, seam movement and stump-to-stump bowling resulting in two lbw’s for the Kiwi superstar.
When experienced heads Haynes and Lanning got to the crease, though, New Zealand had no answers. After some rash shots early, Lanning settled in to play the anchor role, while Haynes struck the ball beautifully from ball one, ending with 69 off 40 not out.
Haynes’ strike rate of 172.50 was a far cry from her career strike rate of roughly 110, which goes to show her skill and ability to adapt to the situation of the game.
With Australia needing 31 off 31, Amy Satterthwaite played her trump card, bringing strike bowler Devine into the attack. Unfortunately, luck was on the Aussies’ side, as two of Haynes top edges flew over the boundary before Maddy Green dropped a simple catch at long on. To add insult to injury, Haynes was dropped again at short fine leg on the fifth ball of the over, which also went for four.
For New Zealand, all of their bowlers struggled to bowl to their fields, and strike spinner Amelia Kerr was particularly ineffective, bowling too short to Haynes and too straight to Lanning. She’ll have to improve if New Zealand are to threaten this batting line up.
Going into the World T20, Australia are looking to attack at the top of the order with the knowledge that experienced heads such as Lanning, Haynes and Perry can adapt to any situation. While the top order didn’t fire at North Sydney, Australia’s batting depth will give them plenty of confidence to chase down any total in this series and going forward.