Wellington: Favourites Australia showed off the full extent of their depth and talent today when they overwhelmed host New Zealand by 144 runs at the Women’s Cricket World Cup.
Even after losing batting stars Rachael Haynes and Meg Lanning relatively cheaply in just over 15 overs, Australia put 269-8 on the board after batting first at New Zealand’s request.
Ellyse Perry and Tahlia McGrath stepped up with half centuries in a 101-run partnership for the fifth wicket and Ashleigh Gardner, just out of COVID isolation, smashed 48 late runs from 18 balls with four sixes and four fours.
“I think it was nice to rebuild a little bit through the middle there with (Beth Mooney), then Thalia came in and especially Ash Gardner near the end with some real fireworks,” Perry said. “It was an awesome way to finish the innings because it was a bit slow and it was nice to finish with some momentum.”
Darcie Brown then led a magnificent effort by the Australia bowlers who quickly dismissed New Zealand’s prolific top-order batters, Sophie Devine, Suzie Bates and Amelia Kerr, to leave the home team reeling at 35-5.
Amy Satterthwaite and Katey Martin were involved in the beginnings of a recovery but leg-spinner Amanda-Jane Wellington found conditions in her namesake city to her liking and dismissed Martin and Hayley Jensen with consecutive balls in the 20th over. New Zealand was 73-7 and the match proceeded to a predictable finish when it was all out for 128 in 30.2 overs. Brown took 3-22 and Wellington 2-34.
The pitch at the Basin Reserve was the best of the tournament so far, providing both pace and bounce. The omnipresent Wellington wind helped the medium pacers to achieve some movement in the air.
New Zealand bowled well early and the Australians took time to get used to the geography of the Basin Reserve - the biggest ground used in the tournament - and to figure out the best angles for scoring shots.
Haynes and Healy put on 37 in a tough partnership for the first wicket but Australia lost Lanning and Haynes quickly and was 56.3 after 15 overs.
Perry rebuilt the innings with 68 from 86 balls, working first with Mooney (30), then with McGrath who made 57 from 56. Gardner’s hard hitting at the end made a major difference, allowing Australia to reach a total which was above par and put pressure on New Zealand.
The Kiwis couldn’t recover from their poor start and the loss in quick succession of Devine, Bates and Kerr whose wickets fell at 22, 23 and 24 respectively.
Satterthwaite batted her way to 44 from 67 balls but lacked a partner who could stick with her to strengthen the innings.
“We wanted to bowl first because we knew if we could contain them and get some early wickets we could put some pressure on,” New Zealand captain Devine said. “But I guess that shows the quality of this Australian team. Even when we had them three or four down and had the run rate under control, the way they were able to launch in the last 10 overs in particular was too much for us today.”
Australia now moves to the top of the tournament points table with three wins from three games. New Zealand started in third place but drops to fourth with two wins and two losses.