In a much-anticipated clash between the Southern Stars and the White Ferns, the Southern Stars defeated their trans-Tasman rivals by a comfortable six-wicket margin. The hosts’ chased down the competitive total of 162-5 with 14 balls to spare with Rachael Haynes and Meg Lanning starring with half centuries to their credit.
Australia won the toss and elected to field first. The hosts’ made an early breakthrough when Ellyse Perry dismissed Suzie Bates with a brilliant delivery that snuck through the batters bat and pad. Sophie Devine (43 off 33) and Jess Watkin (18 off 15) then put on a 48 run stand before the latter fell to a leg-side stumping off the bowling of debutant Georgia Wareham, after having just hit the bowler for a maximum. Shortly afterwards, Devine followed, brilliantly caught by Beth Mooney.
The wickets of Amy Satterthwaite (2 off 7) and Maddy Green (6 off 13) fell in quick succession. Katey Martin scored a quick fire 56* off 34, ably supported by Bernadine Bezuidenhout who finished on an unbeaten 20 off 13. The pair took 36 off the last two overs, including back-to-back sixes off Delissa Kimmince.
Wareham bowled just one over, going for 15 but taking the wicket of Watkin along the way. Perry and Megan Schutt took a scalp each too, while Ashleigh Gardner finished with figures of 2-22.
In the second innings, Australia got off to a flyer of a start with Alyssa Healy scoring a brisk 14 off 9. However, the White Ferns made regular intervals. Mooney, Gardner and Elyse Villani were all dismissed in single figures. At 45-4, Australia were in trouble. Skipper Meg Lanning and her deputy Rachael Haynes then banded together for a record 119 run partnership for the fifth wicket. Haynes hammered her way to 69* off 40, while Lanning blitzed an unbeaten knock of 56* off 44. Lanning finished the game off in style, scoring the match-winning runs with a beautiful shot for four.
Devine, who finished with figures of 2-31 and Leigh Kasperek, who claimed two scalps for 28, were the only bowlers to take wickets for New Zealand.
The hosts now take a 1-0 lead. They have not won a Twenty-20 series against New Zealand in a while. Will their fortunes change this time around?