Alyssa Healy and Ashleigh Gardner starred as Australia overran New Zealand by 97 runs to jump-start their defence of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.

Healy looked a million dollars for her 55, her highest score in the format since the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Final, as Australia racked up 173/9.

The White Ferns lost Suzie Bates with the first ball of their reply and they were rolled for 76 in 14 overs.

Gardner was the chief destroyer with a sublime spell of 5/12, by some way her best T20I bowling figures, the five-time champions starting off with a dominant victory.

Beth Mooney only lasted two balls as she poked unconvincingly at Lea Tahuhu and Eden Carson flew to her right to pouch a stunning catch at backward point.

Healy and Lanning clubbed together and guided Australia to 47 for one from six overs, their best-ever powerplay score against New Zealand at the T20 World Cup.

They assembled a 70 stand for the second wicket until Amelia Kerr tucked up Lanning and she was bowled playing a cut shot to a straight delivery for 41.

One brought two and Tahuhu found Gardner’s leading edge in the next over, Carson taking a simple catch to make it 76 for three.

Healy and Perry took over, rattling to a 50 partnership in just 28 balls with a clinic in controlled aggression.

Healy peeled off 55, only perishing when deceived by Tahuhu’s slower ball and caught on the fence.

Perry and Grace Harris’ partnership promised fireworks and burned bright for 22 in eight balls, but fizzled out when Harris was run out on 14 after a mix-up in the middle.

Perry kept swinging, lifting Amelia Kerr over the cover boundary, but she was gone for 40 a ball later and Jess Jonassen went for a two-ball duck in the same over.

There was a late flurry of wickets as Alana King and Tahlia McGrath came and went in the last two overs with Australia closing on 173/9 from 20 overs.

The start of the Kiwi reply was a surreal one. Megan Schutt bowled five wides with the first ball and with the second, bowled Suzie Bates who went down for an improbable scoop.

Both openers were gone within the over as Sophie Devine was given out LBW turning one to leg.

Bernadine Bezuidenhout and Amelia Kerr briefly stabilised things and Bezuidenhout reverse swept Jonassen to the fence before departing for 14, caught by Darcie Brown off Perry.

The White Ferns sunk to 37 for four with Maddy Green run out and Amelia Kerr’s three fours from the three balls that followed was a fleeting show of defiance.

Kerr was bowled shortly after by Gardner and the slide continued, Hayley Jensen chipping tamely to midwicket before Tahuhu and Rowe were accounted for by Gardner in quick succession.

In the end, New Zealand lost three wickets for four runs in 11 balls and it was clearly terminal to their hopes, Gardner taking the final two wickets in the 14th over.

Scores in brief:

Australia beat New Zealand at Boland Park, Paarl by 97 runs

Australia 173 for nine in 20 overs (Alyssa Healy 55, Ellyse Perry 40; Amelia Kerr 3/23, Lea Tahuhu 3/37)

New Zealand 76 all out in 14 overs (Amelia Kerr 21, Bernadine Bezuidenhout 14; Ashleigh Gardner 5/12, Megan Schutt 2/8)

Player of the Match: Ashleigh Gardner (Australia)

Content courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.