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Australia smash Kiwis in World Cup stunner

Australia have bowled New Zealand out for 128 in an emphatic 141-run win on Sunday over the hosts that underlines their favouritism for the Women’s World Cup.

Meg Lanning’s side were pinned down early after being sent in at the Basin Reserve, scratching around for runs at 3-56.

From that point on, Australia produced a near faultless performance, firing with bat and ball to claim three wins from as many World Cup outings.

Ellyse Perry and Tahlia McGrath struck half-centuries and Ash Gardner, fresh out of COVID-19 isolation, clobbered 48 runs off 18 balls as Australia dug in to reach an improbable 8-269.

“That’s the beauty of our batting lineup,” Lanning said.

“We have got some great depth and players that can rescue an innings.”

The Aussie pace attack ripped through the White Ferns, their three most lethal bats gone within eight overs.

Perry bowled Sophie Devine through the gate for six, before Darcie Brown ripped the heart out of the Kiwi top-order with the wickets of Amelia Kerr and Suzie Bates.

Beth Mooney produced a stunning dive in slips to remove Kerr, giving the South Australian teenager her first World Cup wicket.

The scorecard read “c Healy b McGrath” when Maddy Green poked at one shortly after, and Brown then trapped Frankie Mackay lbw to leave the Kiwis demoralised at 5-35.

Brown was superb bowling with the wind, finishing with 3-22 in a tearaway spell.

From that point, the end was nigh for New Zealand, hastened by Amanda-Jade Wellington’s (2-34) two wickets in two balls and Gardner’s (2-15) late effort.

“Poor,” Devine said when asked to sum up her team’s batting effort.

It might have been so different for the White Ferns, who have now lost 12 straight against Australia.

They were on top for much of the Aussie innings after winning the toss and bowling on a green wicket.

Openers Rachael Haynes and Alyssa Healy made a slow and steady start, navigating the first nine overs before a bowling change brought their undoing.

Healy pulled straight to deep midwicket for 15, Lanning was caught behind slashing at Hayley Jensen’s wide delivery for 5, and Haynes was bowled by a Lea Tahuhu thunderbolt for 30.

Perry formed the spine of the Australian recovery, partnering with Mooney for a 57-run stand and then McGrath in a vital century partnership.

The veteran allrounder was dismissed on 68 when Maddy Green sprinted and dived for a superb grab on the ropes.

By then, Australia’s salvage job was all but done, and Gardner arrived in the 46th over to put the cherry on top.

The reigning Belinda Clark Medallist caught COVID-19 on the eve of the tournament and only left her mandatory isolation to train on Saturday.

She threw her bat at everything and was richly rewarded, helping Australia to a strong score.

“I guess that shows the quality of the Australian side,” Devine said.

“Even though we had them three or four down and had the run rate under control they were able to launch.”

Tahuhu finished as New Zealand’s best with 3-53 – despite Gardner plundering 16 off her last over – and is now the tournament’s leading wicket-taker.

The White Ferns are now 2-2 and with a major net run rate dip, face the prospect of missing the semi-finals on home soil.

They play world No.2 South Africa on Thursday in Hamilton and England on Sunday at Auckland’s Eden Park and must win both to keep fate in their own hands.

Australia march on, and will have the chance to make it four out of four against West Indies back at the Basin Reserve on Tuesday.

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