Megan Schutt’s three-wicket haul and an all-round effort from Tahlia McGrath helped Australia seal a comfortable five-wicket victory over New Zealand to make their way to the Commonweath Games final where they face India for the gold medal. New Zealand captain Sophie Devine took charge with a half-century and Amelia Kerr chipped in with a vital contribution in the middle-order, but those efforts could only push the side to 144 for 7, which Australia chased down with three balls and five wickets to spare.
On a tough batting surface, New Zealand were rocked in the first over as Suzie Bates played on an inswinger from Schutt for a golden duck. Though Devine sought a quick move on with a flurry of fours, Schutt struck again inside the PowerPlay, this time beating the defence of Georgia Plimmer to knock the top of offstump. Kerr joined her captain for a innings-reviving partnership as the pair added 73 for the third wicket, but took as many as 64 balls for it.
At a juncture where Australia should’ve shifted gears, they fell back instead as Devine slog swept a delivery from Jess Jonassen straight to backward square leg. McGrath returned to the attack and struck again straightaway to put New Zealand’s death over plans in disarray. McGrath foxed the other set batter – Kerr – with change of pace to get a top-edge to short third fielder. In her following over, McGrath nailed her yorker to left Lea Tahuhu’s leg stump on the floor. New Zealand could manage just 11 runs off the last 12 balls to get to their total.
Australia’s riposte wasn’t as straightforward as they’d have liked as New Zealand took the fight to the reigning T20 champions. Right after Alyssa Healy smashed three fours off Hayley Jensen in a single over, Tahuhu came into the attack and struck on the first ball of the third over to send the Aussie keeper back. Meg Lanning followed suit in similar fashion, as she smashed a six off Tahuhu in her next over but was then bowled two deliveries later to leave Australia on 28 for 2 in the fifth over. For Australia too, the inflexion point was the start of the third-wicket stand between Beth Mooney and McGrath.
The pair threw caution to the winds, adding 56 off just 36 balls as boundaries kept flowing from both ends. It took a sharp effort in the field and some smart glovework to break the stand, running out McGrath for a 23-ball 36, that included six fours. New Zealand piled on the pressure as Tahuhu returned and dismissed Mooney, but Rachael Haynes and Ashleigh Gardner put in brief but vital contributions to keep Australia ahead in chase.
The game was still on an even keel when Australia needed 34 off the last five overs, but the pendulum swung their way over the next three overs as Australia polished off 25 from the target in this period. Australia went into the final over of the chase needing just two runs, and collected it with two singles. New Zealand will now play England for the bronze medal before India and Australia square off in the summit clash.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 144/7 in 20 overs (Sophie Devine 53, Amelia Kerr 40; Megan Schutt 3-20, Tahlia McGrath 2-30) lost to Australia 145/5 in 19.3 overs (Beth Mooney 36, Tahlia McGrath 34; Lea Tahuhu 3-20) by 5 wickets.
Source By – Cricbuzz