Brilliant performances from Ashleigh Gardner and Megan Schutt helped Australia defeat New Zealand by 17 runs in the first T20I of the three-match series played at the Allan Border Field on Saturday.
With both sides playing international cricket for the first time since the ICC T20 World Cup in March, it was the experienced hand of White Ferns skipper Sophie Devine who elected to bowl first, and claimed 3/8 from her first three overs to leave the Australians reeling at 81/5.
However, Gardner, who came to bat at number five, played a superb knock of 61 to help the hosts post 138/6 in their allotted 20 overs. The 23-year-old batswoman scored 6 fours and 3 sixes during her 41-ball knock.
Apart from her, skipper Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes also made useful contributions for 24 and 23 as the hosts set a competitive target for the White Ferns.
Chasing the target, the visitors had a decent start as openers Devine (29) and Maddy Green (5) put on 27 runs for the first wicket. However following their dismissals, the White Ferns went off the track and kept losing wickets at regular intervals, thus unable to keep up with the required run-rate.
While Suzie Bates (33) did keep their hopes alive, she couldn't find support from the remaining batters as New Zealand could manage 121/7 in their full quota of overs.
For Australia, Schutt was the pick of the bowlers as she scalped four wickets giving away just 23 runs in her four overs.
The two teams will now face each other in the second T20I at the same venue on Sunday.
Brief scores: Australia 138/6 (Gardner 61; Devine 3/18) beat New Zealand 121/7 (Bates 33; Schutt 4/23)