Australia begins T20 World Cup defense with powerful win
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Australia began its Women’s T20 World Cup defense with a powerful 97-run win over New Zealand on Saturday to underline its status as the top team in the world.
Australia posted 173-9 after being put in to bat at Boland Park in Paarl, with 55 from opener Alyssa Healey, 41 from captain Meg Lanning and 40 from Ellyse Perry.
Australia bowled New Zealand out for 76 in 14 overs, its lowest total at the World Cup and third lowest in Twenty20s.
The Aussie bowlers worked their way quickly through New Zealand’s batting, starting with pace bowler Megan Schutt removing both openers for ducks in the first over.
Spinner Ashleigh Gardner took over and ran through New Zealand’s middle and lower order for career-best figures of 5-12 from three overs.
“That (win) was set up by our batters, who gave us a bit of flexibility with the ball,” Gardner said. “We started off exactly the way we wanted to.”
The dominant performance reminded everyone why the Aussies have won five of the seven past Women’s T20 World Cups, including the last two, and are outright favorites to make it six titles in eight tournaments.
England, the world’s No. 2-ranked team, started its tournament earlier Saturday in sweltering hot Paarl with a strong batting display to beat West Indies by seven wickets.
West Indies made 135-7 and England chased it down comfortably, with 40 not out from Nat Sciver-Brunt and 32 not out from captain Heather Knight.
Their unbeaten 67-run stand ensured the English cruised to 138-3 in 14.3 overs.
Australia goes to the top of Group 1 on net run rate ahead of Sri Lanka, which pulled off a big shock to beat host South Africa on opening night Friday.
England leads Group 2, where the focus will be on Sunday when India plays Pakistan in another instalment of their fierce cricket rivalry.
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