The Southern Stars have taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in their three match Twenty-20 series against the White Ferns, defeating them in a Twenty-20 series for the first time since 2012. They did so comfortably too, winning by six wickets.
Having won the toss, Australia sent in their opponents to bat first. Megan Schutt struck early for the hosts to dismiss Sophie Devine and one-down Jess Watkin in single digits. On the back of those two wickets, Amy Satterthwaite joined Suzie Bates at the crease. Bates was in ominous touch, pounding boundary after boundary, on her way to 77 off 52. Her 60 run partnership with her skipper (27 off 19) meant the White Ferns were on track to post a daunting total on the board. They would have been hoping to cross the 180 run mark.
However, they suffered yet another collapse, similar to those in their tour of England. They were 121-5 when the wicket of Bates fell. They finished their innings on 145-8, well below par. The lower-middle order was unable to capitalize on the foundation that had been laid for them, with Maddy Green (15 off 19) being the only other batter to reach double figures. Largely due to Bates’ knock, New Zealand finished on 145.
Though Australia put in a underwhelming fielding effort, giving the tourists’ many reprieves through dropped catches, their bowlers did brilliantly to pull the game back in their favour. Megan Schutt especially bowled exceptionally well, finishing with figures of 3-15 off her four overs, to claim the Player of the Match award. Meanwhile, Sophie Molineux, Ellyse Perry, Georgia Wareham and Delissa Kimmince chipped in with a wicket each.
In the second innings, Lea Tahuhu made an early breakthrough, bowling Beth Mooney for a duck. Alyssa Healy then combined with Ashleigh Gardner to hit the bowlers to all parts of the ground. Australia would be pleased with how fearlessly Gardner is playing the short balls, a tactic teams will use against her often.Their dangerous partnership was broken by the second controversial decision of the series; a run out in which it was questioned if the ball was in wicketkeeper Katey Martin’s gloves when the bails were dislodged.
After Gardner’s wicket fell, Elyse Villani came to the crease and took some time to settle in. Healy, on the other hand, continued her power-hitting on her way to 57 off 41, before being caught leg-before by Devine. Australia were on their way to chase down the total easily in the penultimate over. Amelia Kerr was given the ball and under immense pressure, she bowled the Australian captain Meg Lanning. Villani then hit the winning runs, recording the series win with a four, bringing up her own half-century in the process.
Australia have sent a strong statement to the rest of the world ahead of the World Twenty-20 by defeating New Zealand twice with one match still to go. They seem to be in good touch and look threatening to claim the Twenty-20 trophy again. New Zealand though need to be more consistent.