CommBank T20Is v New Zealand
Gardner, Schutt start Australia's summer in style
A clutch innings from Ashleigh Gardner and four wickets to Megan Schutt saw Australia continue their winning streak over New Zealand
Adam Burnett at Allan Border Field, Brisbane
26 September 2020, 05:00 PM AEST
The ever-entertaining Ashleigh Gardner rescued Australia with the bat before a vintage bowling display from Megan Schutt clinched a 17-run win over New Zealand in the first T20I in Brisbane.
Australia, who fielded the same XI that won the World Cup final over India in March, have now won their past 12 matches against their trans-Tasman rivals across the two limited-overs formats, and their greater strength in depth was on display at Allan Border Field today, with the world champions extricating themselves from a couple of precarious situations to continue their dominance over the White Ferns.
With both sides playing international cricket for the first time in more than six months, it was the experienced hand of NZ skipper Sophie Devine who shone initially. After winning the toss and electing to bowl, the captain claimed the wickets of three of Australia's top six batters to leave them reeling at 5-81.
Openers Beth Mooney (2) and Alyssa Healy (6) fell inside the Powerplay before Meg Lanning (24) and Rachael Haynes (23) briefly steadied proceedings, with skipper Lanning becoming the second Australian behind Alex Blackwell to pass 500 T20I runs against New Zealand.
Their fightback didn't last however, as both players picked out fielders with shots that were representative of what was perhaps a forgivably rusty Australian showing with the bat.
Gardner (61 from 41) though was the exception. The big-hitting Sydney Sixers superstar eased into her innings before launching three maximums into the wind and beyond the midwicket boundary on the eastern side of the ground.
The 23-year-old has been criticised at times for failing to live up to her potential at international level but this performance could hardly have been more clutch, the right-hander combining force with finesse as she threaded the field repeatedly for some hard-run twos and a half-dozen fours.
Nicola Carey (7no) and Georgia Wareham (9no) added some impetus to the back-end of the innings to get the score to 6-138, though Brisbane locals were left scratching their heads at the absence of Heat captain Jess Jonassen, who dominated with the bat in last summer's Rebel WBBL but was deemed surplus to requirements today.
In reply, Devine was partnered at the top of the order by Heat recruit Maddy Green for the first time, though their union didn't last long with the latter falling to another Heat teammate, Delissa Kimmince, for five.
Devine, who was last summer's leading run-scorer in the WBBL with Adelaide and who will this season turn out in the orange of Perth, soon found her range, hitting three fours and a six to get her side's run chase properly underway.
There was a heart-in-mouth moment for the Kiwis captain at the beginning of the eighth over when she missed an attempted pull from a slower leg-break from Wareham, only for the ball to hit her body, rebound onto leg stump and trickle harmlessly away, the bails unmoved.
YOU'RE KIDDING! The bails aren't going anywhere! #AUSvNZ pic.twitter.com/11oKs7cNJz— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) September 26, 2020
As it happened, it mattered little, Devine departing an over later in what was the most contentious moment of the match. Kimmince speared one leg side and Healy, standing up to the stumps, took the ball expertly.
The 'keeper seemed to think there was an edge behind and began half-appealing, half-celebrating.
At the same time, Devine had taken one step forward after her attempted leg-side flick. Instinctively and quick as a flash, Healy removed the bails.
The Australians appealed, and the square leg umpire referred the stumping. With Healy's black pants obscuring the black bails, the replay appeared inconclusive, however the third umpire pushed the red light and Devine was on her way.
A short time later, Jonassen struck with the wicket of Satterthwaite (9), the right-hander attempting a reverse flick that came off her glove and was again sensationally pouched by Healy.
An Australian win at that point appeared just about inevitable, but that was to discount the pluckiness of Katey Martin (21 off 16) and the class of Suzie Bates.
The two put together a 40-run stand in five overs, with Martin at one point hitting Jonassen for two fours in three balls to ever-so-slightly begin to swing the momentum.
Schutt (4-23) however, was having none of it. The spearhead of Australia's attack returned in the 18th over and utilised her superb skillset perfectly, taking the pace off and drawing false shots from Martin and then Bates (33 from 38).
Sharp glovework from Healy! #AUSvNZ pic.twitter.com/UHr1wOj1MF— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) September 26, 2020
In the space of four balls, the right-armer had all but iced the match, and she returned in the final over to claim another two wickets and finish with a four-wicket haul for the second consecutive match.
Australia XI: Alyssa Healy (wk), Beth Mooney, Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes, Ashleigh Gardner, Sophie Molineux, Nicola Carey, Jess Jonassen, Georgia Wareham, Megan Schutt, Delissa Kimmince
New Zealand XI: Sophie Devine (c), Maddy Green, Suzie Bates, Amy Satterthwaite, Katey Martin (wk), Amelia Kerr, Hayley Jensen, Lauren Down, Katie Kerkins, Rosemary Mair, Lea Tahuhu
CommBank T20I and ODI series
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham, Belinda Vakarewa
New Zealand squad: Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Natalie Dodd, Deanna Doughty, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jenson, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Hannah Rowe, Amy Satterthwaite, Lea Tahuhu, Jess Watkin
All matches to be played at Brisbane's Allan Border Field
September 26: First T20, 1:50pm AEST
September 27: Second T20, 1:45pm AEST
September 30: Third T20, 1:45pm AEST
October 3: First ODI, 10:10am AEST
October 5: Second ODI, 10:10am AEST (11:10 AEDT)
October 7: Third ODI, 10:10am AEST (11:10 AEDT)
Watch live on the Seven Network, Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports