Schutt, Gardner guide Australia to T20 win over NZ

Updated 27 Sep 2020


Australia's players celebrate their victory over New Zealand. — AFP
Australia's players celebrate their victory over New Zealand. — AFP

BRISBANE: Australia’s Megan Schutt took two vital wickets in the closing stages as the world champions beat New Zealand by 17 runs in Saturday’s opening Twenty20 International at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane.

With the visitors closing in on Australia’s total of 138, Schutt claimed the vital wickets of Katey Martin and Suzie Bates in the 18th over to leave the Kiwis struggling at 105-5.

They were unable to regain momentum and the hosts eased to a comfortable win in their first match since winning the World Cup in March.

The Australians reached their total with the loss of six wickets thanks to a superb 61 from Ashleigh Gardner, who smashed six boundaries and cleared the fence three times in 41 balls on the two-paced pitch that proved hard to score from before Schutt took 4-23 to restrict New Zealand to 121-7.

“I thought we fought really nicely, initially with the bat,” Australian captain Meg Lanning said. “Ash Gardner’s innings was excellent to get us to a competitive total. We thought we were in the game because there was a little bit in the pitch.”

After New Zealand captain Sophie Devine won the toss and sent Australia in, the home side got away to a sluggish start in the face of some tight New Zealand bowling.

Beth Mooney holed out to mid-on in the second over before the dangerous Alicia Healy fell in the fifth for just six with the score at 25-2.

When Lanning was caught behind with the score on 46, the visitors were in control. But Gardner took the game away from New Zealand with some impressive hitting.

Devine opened New Zealand’s batting and powered her way to 29 until given out stumped in a controversial decision by the TV umpire.

Bates and Martin looked to have got the New Zealand chase back on track until Schutt’s crucial double break.

“We’ve got to stay in the contest for longer periods of time,” Devine said. “They got 10-20 runs more than they should have and we bowled poorly and fielded poorly at times. Same with the bat. We stayed in contact with them but then let it slip.”

The sides play two more T20s before a three-match ODI series — all at the Allan Border Field — with both teams have been in isolation for at least the last two weeks in bio-secure hubs, with all other international teams likely to follow suit over the southern hemisphere summer.

New Zealand Cricket have said they spoke extensively with CA over their bio-security measures, with their own plans for their international programme being approved by the New Zealand government on Friday.

CA, however, have not confirmed the rest of their fixtures for their international programme, which includes a men’s four-tTst series against India. They postponed a one-off Test with Afghanistan and a men’s one-day series with New Zealand on Friday.

The delay in finalising the schedule has provoked a bitter public dispute with Channel Seven. The broadcaster has threatened to tear up its 2018 contract, complaining that coronavirus restrictions on travel will dilute the competitiveness of games, especially in the Twenty20 Big Bash League.

Seven and pay television company Foxtel agreed a six-year broadcasting rights agreement worth A$1.2 billion (US$880 million) with CA in 2018. Seven’s share of the agreement was worth about A$450m.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2020