Australia has escaped with a six-wicket victory over their trans-Tasman rivals at Hamilton’s Seddon Park, with all-rounder Ash Gardner steering her side home with a classy half-century.
The visitors were in dire straits following an early collapse in the run chase, but Gardner showed her class to help Australian reach the target with 12 balls to spare.
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New Zealand registered 6/130 from their 20 overs after being sent in to bat, Kiwi veteran Amy Satterthwaite top-scoring with 40.
Australian spinner Jessica Jonassen was the chief-destroyer with the ball, finishing with figures of 3/26 from her four overs.
But the run chase started horrifically for Australia, with openers Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney both dismissed cheaply in the Powerplay.
When left-hander Rachael Haynes gifted a catch to mid-on in the fourth over, Meg Lanning’s side was suddenly reeling at 3/14.
But powerhouse batter Gardner steadied the ship with an unbeaten 73 off 48 balls, her knock featuring six boundaries and three sixes.
Australian players celebrate the wicket of Hayley Jensen.Source:Getty Images
Many viewers were left baffled when superstar all-rounder Ellyse Perry — representing Australia for the first time in 12 months — did not get an opportunity with the ball.
The last instance of Perry not bowling a delivery in a game for Australia was during an ODI against Sri Lanka in September 2016.
Perry is widely-regarded as one of the game’s modern greats, boasting 297 wickets during her stellar 13-year international career.
For years she was Australia’s most threatening seamer, but Perry’s bowling has been oddly ineffective since last year’s triumphant T20 World Cup campaign.
In the recent WBBL tournament, the 30-year-old claimed eight wickets in 13 matches, leaking 8.25 runs per over throughout the T20 competition.
Then during the WNCL, Perry snared just two scalps in six games for Victoria, averaging a woeful 76.50 in the 50-over tournament.
No Ellyse Perry with the ball in Hamilton. Before today, she had bowled in 116 out of 120 T20Is since her debut, and had bowled in every T20I for Aus since 2015 v Ireland. The other three times she didn't bowl (all v Pak in 2014) she had a knee injury #NZvAUS
Interesting that Perry hasn't bowled at all in the first 15 overs. #NZvAUS
Unpopular opinion: If Ellyse Perry is not bowling, then it is difficult to have her in the Australia T20 XI.#NZvAUS
Former Australian captain Lisa Sthalekar recently claimed Perry is at risk of losing her spot in the national T20 side.
“She’s not a walk-up start. In 50 overs, Tests, you absolutely pick her, but T20 has always been her weakest format,” Sthalekar said, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I’ll be interested to see if they make some tough calls. One thing I have known, (coach) Matthew Mott and Meg are very driven in the way they want their team to play. They may make that tough call and it might send the right message to her that she’s got to get a move on.”
Ellyse Perry of Australia.Source:Getty Images
Earlier this week, Perry revealed the hamstring injury she sustained in March last year has forced her to adjust her bowling technique.
“Throughout my rehab process I saw that as a great opportunity to work on a few different things, and one of those was improving the efficiency or effectiveness of my run-up to give me a little more balance and power at the crease,” Perry said, as reported by ESPNcricinfo.
“That was a work in progress and bringing it into the first round of actual competition at the start of the WNCL, I didn’t expect it to go smoothly. Those first couple of games against New South Wales probably weren’t perfect, but since then it’s been really great because I’ve been able to iron that out. It feels fine now.”
The second T20 between New Zealand and Australia will commence at 1pm AEDT on Tuesday afternoon.
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