PAARL, South Africa: Australia opened the defense of their Women’s T20 World Cup title with a crushing 97-run win over New Zealand at Boland Park in Paarl on Saturday, but captain Meg Lanning said she wanted her team to improve as the tournament progressed.
A half-century by Alyssa Healy and forties by Lanning and Ellyze Perry took Australia to a total of 173 for nine after they were sent in to bat.
New Zealand lost their two most experienced batters in the first over and never recovered as they were bowled out for just 76.
Off-spinner Ash Gardner took five for 12 after Megan Schutt did the early damage.
“I’m really happy,” said Lanning. “We were not really sure what to expect from the conditions. Hopefully we are going to get better through the tournament.”
Player of the match Gardner said the Australians were comfortable with their reputation as the best team in women’s cricket.
“It’s something we speak about. We know that you always have to show up for each match.”
New Zealand captain Sophie Devine said her team’s performance was “really disappointing.”
New Zealand meet hosts South Africa in their next match at the same venue on Monday. With both teams having already been beaten it shapes up as a contest which could effectively eliminate the losers.
“It’s a quick turnaround. We need to figure out what we can from the wicket and the conditions,” said Devine.
On Saturday, Healy made 55 off 38 balls as she and Lanning (41) set the foundation for the highest total of the first two days of the tournament after Beth Mooney fell for nought off the fourth ball of the match.
Healy and Lanning put on 71 for the second wicket before Lanning was bowled by Amelia Kerr in the tenth over.
Healy and Perry were mainly responsible for Australia adding exactly 100 runs in the second half of their innings, adding 50 off 28 balls for the fourth wicket.
Perry went on to make 40 off 22 balls with two sixes and three fours.
Megan Schutt delivered a wide which went to the boundary with her first delivery of the New Zealand innings but bowled Suzie Bates with her next ball as Bates swung wildly across the line.
Devine was leg before wicket four balls later.
Bernardine Bezuidenhout (14) and Kerr (21) added 20 for the third wicket before Bezuidenhout was ruled to have been caught by a diving Darcie Brown off Perry, although the decision by television umpire Jacqueline Williams seemed debatable.
The rest of the innings folded rapidly.