ICC World T20 - Women
Stars undone by red-hot White Ferns
A dramatic Aussie collapse set the tone for a resounding six-wicket win to NZ in Nagpur
Laura Jolly in Nagpur
21 March 2016, 09:55 PM AEST
The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars have suffered a humbling six-wicket defeat to New Zealand in their key World T20 showdown at Nagpur's VCA Stadium.
Australia were defending 8-103 after the White Ferns spinners tore through their top order, before New Zealand put together a very strong case for why they should be considered the favourites for this tournament – if not outright, than at least on level pegging with England – as they chased the total in just 16.2 overs.
Quick Single: Aussie men brace for do-or-die clash
The White Ferns are now almost certain to finish on top of Group A, while the Southern Stars will need convincing victories in their final two matches against Sri Lanka and Ireland to be sure of a berth in the semi-finals.
The Black Caps spinners wreaked havoc the same VCA Stadium wicket last week and on Monday it was the White Ferns' turn, as Australia were left shell-shocked at 4-4 in the fourth over after winning the toss and choosing to bat.
Only a fighting 52-run stand from Ellyse Perry (42) and Jess Jonassen (22) boosted the Southern Stars, with Alex Blackwell (10) and Beth Mooney, who (15 not out) the only other batters to reach double figures.
Off-spinner Leigh Kasperek, a former Scotland international turned Kiwi, was the destroyer when the sides met in Wellington just weeks ago, taking 4-7 in a devastating spell.
She was at it again on Monday taking 3-13, as first Elyse Villani (0) and then Alyssa Healy (2) were out on consecutive balls attempting identical shots to mid-on in the second over.
In an interesting move, Erin Osborne – generally known for her bowling - was elevated to No.3, but it almost immediately backfired, as she called skipper Meg Lanning through for a single, only for the captain to be caught well short of her crease, departing for a duck.
Osborne became Kasperek's third victim just 10 balls later, leaving Australia in disarray at 4-4.
Ellyse Perry and Alex Blackwell set about rebuilding the innings, safely negotiating the remainder of Nielsen's and Kasperek's spells as they shared a 26-run stand, but it was broken when Blackwell was bowled for 10 by an Erin Bermingham delivery that turned sharply.
Perry looked easily the most comfortable of the Australian batters, striking three fours and one six in her 48-ball 42, while Jonassen provided solid support in her run-a-ball 22.
But it was all about the NZ spinners, with Nielsen unlucky to have finished without a wicket but nothing short of outstanding as she finished with figures of 0-4 from four overs, while Bermingham finished with 2-23.
While Australia struggled, it was a vastly different story when Bates and Priest strode out in pursuit of what may, given the spin-friendly conditions, have seemed almost a defendable total.
They raced to 0-58 in just 7.4 overs, pummelling six fours and one six between them, and while both lost their wickets – Bates for 22 and Priest for 34 – the chase never truly looked in doubt, as Sophie Devine (17) continued the aggression before Amy Satterthwaite (15no) closed out the emphatic win with 22 balls to spare – their 10th win from their last 12 T20Is.
The Southern Stars now head to Delhi, where they will meet Sri Lanka on Thursday.
New Zealand's win means they will almost certainly finish on top of Group A, with three wins already under their belts and just one match, against South Africa, remaining, while the Southern Stars need to win both their remaining matches to make the semi-finals.
Even then, should South Africa manage to knock off the White Ferns next Saturday, it could become a matter of net run rate for the defending champions.
Australia: Elyse Villani, Alyssa Healy, Meg Lanning (c), Ellyse Perry, Alex Blackwell, Jess Jonassen, Beth Mooney, Erin Osborne, Megan Schutt, Kristen Beams, Lauren Cheatle. Sarah Coyte (12th).
New Zealand: Suzie Bates (c), Rachel Priest, Sophie Devine, Sara McGlashan, Amy Satterthwaite, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Leigh Kasperek, Erin Bermingham, Lea Tahuhu, Morna Nielsen. Thamsyn Newton (12th).