Australia have scored an emphatic 141-run win over New Zealand in Wellington, underlining their favouritism for the Women’s World Cup. Meg Lanning’s side were pinned down early after being sent in at the Basin Reserve on Sunday, scratching around for runs at 56-3.
From that point on, Australia produced a near-faultless performance, firing with bat and ball to claim three wins from as many World Cup outings in New Zealand.
Ellyse Perry and Tahlia McGrath struck half-centuries and Ash Gardner, fresh out of Covid-19 isolation, clobbered 48 runs off 18 balls as Australia dug in to reach an improbable 269-8.
“That’s the beauty of our batting line-up,” Lanning said. “We have got some great depth and players that can rescue an innings.”
The Australian pace attack did the damage as the White Ferns finished all out for 128, their three most lethal bats gone within eight overs. Perry bowled Sophie Devine through the gate for six, before Darcie Brown ripped the heart out of the Kiwi top order with the wickets of Amelia Kerr and Suzie Bates.
Beth Mooney produced a stunning dive in slips to remove Kerr, giving the South Australian teenager her first World Cup wicket. The scorecard read “c Healy b McGrath” when Maddy Green poked at one shortly after, and Brown then trapped Frankie Mackay lbw to leave the Kiwis demoralised at 35-5.
Brown, who was dropped after a listless first-up effort against England, might have had three wickets in the 12th over along.
Katey Martin’s french cut missed the wickets by a whisker and Amy Satterthwaite was given out lbw but overturned on review as Brown finished with 3-22 from a tearaway spell bowling with the wind.
The end was nigh for New Zealand, hastened by Amanda-Jade Wellington’s (2-34) two wickets in two balls and Gardner’s (2-15) late effort.
“Poor,” Devine said when asked to sum up her team’s batting effort.
It might have been so different for the White Ferns, who have now lost 12 straight against Australia. They were on top for much of the Aussie innings after winning the toss and bowling on a green wicket.
Openers Rachael Haynes and Alyssa Healy made a slow and steady start, navigating the first nine overs before a bowling change brought their undoing. Healy pulled straight to deep midwicket for 15, Lanning was caught behind slashing at Hayley Jensen’s wide delivery for 5, and Haynes was bowled by a Lea Tahuhu thunderbolt for 30.
Perry formed the spine of the Australian recovery, partnering with Mooney for a 57-run stand and then McGrath in a vital century partnership. The veteran allrounder was dismissed on 68 when Maddy Green sprinted and dived for a superb grab on the ropes.
By then, Australia had salvaged its innings, and Gardner arrived in the 46th over to put the cherry on top.
The reigning Belinda Clark Medallist caught Covid-19 on the eve of the tournament and only left her mandatory isolation for a sole training on Saturday. She threw her bat at everything and was richly rewarded, helping Australia to a strong score.
“I guess that shows the quality of the Australian side,” Devine said. “Even though we had them three or four down and had the run rate under control they were able to launch.”
Tahuhu finished as New Zealand’s best with 3-53 – despite Gardner plundering 16 off her last over – and now has the most wickets at the tournament. Still, the White Ferns are now 2-2 and, with a major net run rate dip, face the prospect of missing the semi-finals on home soil without an uptick.
They play world No 2 South Africa on Thursday in Hamilton and England on Sunday at Auckland’s Eden Park. Australia march on, and will have the chance to make it four out of four against West Indies back at the Basin Reserve on Tuesday.