Australia’s Alex Blackwell (L) and Elyse Villani bump gloves at the change of innings. (AAP Image: Tracey Nearmy)
Australia recovered from a shaky start to convincingly beat New Zealand by 40 runs in their opening Twenty20 match at the MCG.
A 110-run stand for the third wicket between Southern Stars captain Meg Lanning and Elyse Villani put the home side in charge at 4-151 from 20 overs.
The White Ferns were never in the hunt and could only manage 8-111 in their 20 overs.
When debutant Ashleigh Gardner was run out off the first ball she faced for a duck, the Southern Stars were in trouble at 2-20.
Lanning was dropped on 20 and 24 before making the most of her let offs.
She made 60 from 52 balls, including eight boundaries, while Villani top-scored with 73 not out.
Villani only faced 47 balls, hitting five fours and a six.
Lanning had an eventful match, taking a fine catch to dismiss Rachel Priest and giving Molly Strano her first wicket on debut.
But Lanning also dropped two catches off the bowling of Jess Jonassen – a sitter from Priest and a well-hit drive from New Zealand skipper Suzie Bates.
Gardner is the first Indigenous women’s cricketer to represent Australia since Faith Thomas played one Test in 1958.
The all-rounder was one of three Australian Twenty20 debutantes on Friday, along with Strano and Amanda-Jade Wellington, who was the pick of the bowlers with 3-15 from four overs.
Number four Amy Satterthwaite top scored for New Zealand with 40 from 38 balls, while Bates made 26.
The new-look Southern Stars team is without star all-rounder Ellyse Perry, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, while New Zealander Sophie Devine is missing because of a dislocated thumb.
Friday was the first of three Twenty20s between the Southern Stars and White Ferns, played as curtain raisers before the men’s Australia versus Sri Lanka series.
The Southern Stars will also head to New Zealand in late February for three one-day internationals.