The scorecard: Australia 4-151 (Villani 73no, Lanning 60) beat New Zealand 8-111 (Satterthwaite 40no, Bates 26, Wellington 3-15, Beams 2-24) by 40 runs
The match in a tweet: Super Stars win at the MCG! Villani and Lanning lead the way with the bat before the spinners turn the screws on the White Ferns to seal emphatic victory
The hero: For just the second time in her 40-game T20 career, Elyse Villani didn’t come in as an opener for Australia. But the shift down the order to No.4 didn’t seem to fluster the 27-year-old as she feasted on the New Zealand bowling attack. Her growing versatility with the bat showed as she brought up a fifty from just 31 deliveries – the ninth of her career – and she ultimately finished unbeaten on 73 (47).
The Meg-astar: The Australian skipper rode her luck, put down by ‘keeper Rachel Priest on 20 before being dropped in the deep by Anna Peterson on 24, and the White Ferns were left to rue the missed opportunities as she found her groove and put on a vintage Meg Lanning batting display. She brought up her 10th T20 half-century from 41 balls, reaching the milestone with a boundary. Lanning eventually departed courtesy of a fine catch from Holly Huddleston in the deep for a 52-ball 60 in the 17th over, ending a 110-run partnership with Villani.
The slow-bowling brigade: Australia have an abundance of in-form spin bowlers at the moment and the selectors were not afraid to play to their strengths in Melbourne, with Megan Schutt the only specialist quick named in the XI. Joining her were leg-spinners Kristen Beams and Amanda-Jade Wellington, off-spinners Molly Strano and Ashleigh Gardner as well as left-armer Jess Jonassen. Gardner’s services weren’t call upon, but the other four spinners picked up seven of the eight wickets to fall, with debutant Wellington (3-15) the best of the bunch, while Beams picked up 2-24. Strano and Jonassen made the initial breakthroughs to have New Zealand 2-31 in the seventh over, but it was a middle-order collapse of 5-17 that put the match firmly in Australia’s grasp, as the spinners turned the screws.
The drops: While Lanning was handed two lives, she also gave three back to the White Ferns, putting down a very tough one-handed chance when NZ skipper Suzie Bates was on nine. She put down the simplest of catches from a skied opportunity off Priest in the following over and then a third off Peterson, but fortunately she also held on to a tougher chance to send Priest packing for seven, while Peterson (1) was bowled by Jonassen one ball after getting a life.
The consolation effort: It was a tough day for the White Ferns, but Amy Satterhwaite provided some reason to cheer with a late flurry to end unbeaten on 40 off 38 balls.
The openers: Plenty of questions were asked about which opening combination the Southern Stars would field in Melbourne, with four candidates – Lanning, Villani, Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healy – all putting their hands up. As it transpired, Lanning and Mooney strode out onto the MCG to face the new ball. However, it wasn’t an ideal start for the new opening pair, with Mooney gloving a short ball through to wicketkeeper Priest in the third over to depart for one, leaving Australia 1-10.
The debutants: Australia fielded three new faces in their XI, with former Test quick Jason Gillespie presenting caps to allrounder Gardner – who became the second ever Indigenous woman to play for Australia – and Wellington before play, while Beams handed a cap to club teammate and fellow spinner Strano. Things didn’t go to plan for Gardner, who came in at No.3 but couldn’t believe her luck when she survived an lbw shout first ball, only to be run out trying to get back in her crease after a sharp direct hit from Lea Tahuhu. Strano had a chance put down during her first over, but was able to celebrate her maiden international wicket with her next, removing Priest for seven, while Wellington’s maiden scalp came in her third over with Katie Martin (4) well caught by Jonassen. She added another two to her tally to finish with an outstanding 3-15.
The wash up: Australia now lead the three-match series 1-0, with the teams to head to Geelong where they will meet in the second T20 at Kardinia Park on Sunday.