Paarl (South Africa), Feb 12 (IANS) Alyssa Healy smashed 55 on her return from injury while Ashleigh Gardner picked a five-wicket haul as Australia thrashed New Zealand by 97 runs to kickstart their defence of the Women’s T20 World Cup on a high.
Alyssa’s 55, her highest score in the format since the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup Final helped Australia post an imposing 173/9 in their 20 overs. In reply, New Zealand lost Suzie Bates on the very first ball and were bundled out for just 76 in 14 overs.
Ashleigh, the top-ranked all-rounder in Women’s T20Is, was the chief destroyer with a sublime spell of 5/12, by some way her best T20I bowling figures, to give the five-time champions a dominant victory.
Beth Mooney only lasted two balls as she poked unconvincingly at Lea Tahuhu and Eden Carson flew to her right to pouch a stunning catch at backward point. Alyssa and captain Meg Lanning joined forces for a 70 stand for the second wicket until Amelia Kerr bowled the latter while playing a cut shot to a straight delivery for 41.
One brought two and Lea found Ashleigh’s leading edge in the next over, as Eden took a simple catch to make it 76 for three. Alyssa and Ellyse Perry took over, cruising to a 50 partnership in just 28 balls with controlled aggression.
After Alyssa was deceived by Lea’s slower ball and caught on the fence, Ellyse and Grace Harris’ partnership promised fireworks and burned bright for 22 in eight balls, but fizzled out when the latter was run out on 14 after a mix-up in the middle.
Ellyse kept swinging, lifting Amelia over the cover boundary, but she was gone for 40 a ball later and Jess Jonassen went for a two-ball duck in the same over. There was a late flurry of wickets as Alana King and Tahlia McGrath came and went in quick succession, but Australia still got above 170.
In defence, Megan Schutt bowled five wides with the first ball and with the second, bowled Suzie while going for an improbable scoop. Both openers were gone within the over as Sophie Devine was given out LBW turning one to leg.
Amelia and Bernadine Bezuidenhout briefly stabilised things before the latter departed for 14, caught by Darcie Brown off Ellyse. New Zealand sunk to 37/4 with Maddy Green run out and shortly after, Amelia was clean bowled by Ashleigh.
The slide continued for New Zealand as Lea and Hannah Rowe were accounted for by Ashleigh in quick succession. In the end, New Zealand lost three wickets for four runs in 11 balls and Ashleigh taking the final two wickets to close the game.
Brief Scores: Australia 173/9 in 20 overs (Alyssa Healy 55, Ellyse Perry 40; Amelia Kerr 3/23, Lea Tahuhu 3/37) beat New Zealand 76 all out in 14 overs (Amelia Kerr 21, Bernadine Bezuidenhout 14; Ashleigh Gardner 5/12, Megan Schutt 2/8) by 97 runs