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New Zealand batter Australia in India

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Australian bowler Ellyse Perry is belted for six by Rachel Priest, as the ball (circled) clears the rope (Source: snapshot taken from highlights video)

Australia's mens and women's cricket teams each record victories, but each also lose to New Zealand in their respective T20 tournaments in India. Lachlan Barker reports.

The twenty over cricket World Cup is on in India at the moment, I had hoped for the headline for this sport column of ‘Australia’s women cricketers lead the way’.

However, by the time Sunday night’s match was halfway over, it had already morphed into ‘New Zealand kicks Australia’s arse all over India’.

So, in chronological order then here is the damage. Things began well for our women at least, when on Friday last the Southern Stars took on South Africa in Nagpur and won a tight encounter.

South Africa batted first and posted 6 for 102 from their 20 overs, with Lauren Cheatle and Ellyse Perry the best of Australia’s bowlers with two wickets each, and both with good economy rates: 3.25 for both bowlers.

Economy rate reflects the average number of runs given up per over by the bowler. Three is very low. To compare, Megan Schutt went for 11 in the same innings while Rene Farrell gave up 9.5.

With the bat, the best for Australia was Alex Blackwell, with 42 from 46, while captain Meg Lanning handed out the punishment with 30 from 19, recording a strike rate of 157.

So Australia were home to victory there with an over to spare.

Later that same day, the Australian men went out at Dharamsala in the north to take on New Zealand.

The Kiwis batted first and posted a modest 142 off their 20 overs. Martin Guptill top-scored with 39 off 27 receiving  good support from Kane Williamson (24), Colin Munro (23) and Grant Elliott (27).

James Faulkner (2-18) and Glenn Maxwell (2-18) were the best of Australia’s bowlers.

With the bat, Usman Khawaja led the way with 38 supported by Maxwell with 22 and Mitchell Marsh with 24.

However, it was all to no avail and though Australia started brightly, the Black Caps' bowlers pegged Australia's run rate back by taking regular wickets and in the end, the target got away from Australia.

Corey Anderson with 2-29 and Mitchell Santner with 2-30 were good, but the Kiwi attack was led by a late replacement Mitchell McClenaghan, who took 3-17 off three overs with an outstanding economy rate of 5.66.

After beating Pakistan last night, by the way, New Zealand have already qualified for the semi finals.

So, with the men smarting at being beaten by the perennial little brother, as New Zealand is often seen by Australians, the women then went out to try to gain a measure of revenge.

However Australia was to be disappointed once more.

The term "all sorts of trouble" is one thrown around a lot in cricket commentary, but never has it applied more appositely to Australia’s innings this afternoon in Nagpur. Australia was 4-4 in the fourth over.

New Zealand captain Suzie Bates lobbed a rethink-inducing hand grenade at Australia by opening with two spinners.

For those less familiar with cricket, fast bowlers usually open the bowling with the shiny new ball. Conjugal to that opening bats spend their whole cricketing lives training to play fast bowling.

And in this case, the move from Bates paid off big time. Caught on the wrong foot – literally and metaphorically – Australia lost Elyse Villani in the second over for a duck, then Alyssa Healy for 2, then captain Meg Lanning was run out for 0, followed by Erin Osborne likewise for no score.

The destroyer for the women in black was Leigh Kasperek, who finished with 3-13 from four overs with a miserly economy rate of 3.25, leading to her receiving the player of the match award.

However then Ellyse Perry righted the ship with 42, supported by Alex Blackwell with 10, Jess Jonassen with 23 and Beth Mooney with 15 not out. However, those of us watching already had the sense that it was game over already following the disastrous clatter of wickets in those first four overs.

Australia eventually posted an innings total of 103, leaving New Zealand in the box seat having to chase a psychologically important less than 120 total. Below 120 is less than a run a ball, and this makes for much less pressured batting for the chasing team.

However all was not lost, as a good performance from the Australian bowlers could still pull the fat from the fire.

However, within minutes of the New Zealand innings starting off, all hope was gone. The kiwi openers, Suzie Bates and Rachel Priest, began the innings like they had booked an early flight to their next match.

Priest rattled up 34 from 27 with five fours and a six, while captain Bates at the other end provided good support with 23 from 25, including one four and a six. They took the score past the halfway mark, before Priest went on 58, however then Sophie Devine came in and took up where Priest left off notching 17 from 17, then Sara McGlashan (11) and Amy Satterthwaite (16 n.o.) took New Zealand home to victory with three overs to spare.

This victory – New Zealand’s third – takes our neighbor to a supremely dominant top position in the group.

Australia will likely qualify for the knockout phase, following their earlier defeat of South Africa, but clearly New Zealand are the yard stick for all the women’s teams to measure themselves by.

After that, the next Australian men’s game was a bit of an anti-climax, but Australia did shore up a measure of respect by defeating a good Bangladesh team by a run with an over to spare. For the Bangladeshis, best at bat was Mahmudullah with a blistering 49 from 29 with a strike rate of 168, supported by Shakib Al Hasan with 33 from 25.

For Australia, Khawaja posted his second top score in as many matches, with 58 from 45 with a strike rate of 132. He was ably supported by a group of Australian bats, namely Maxwell (23), Shane Watson (21), Steve Smith (14) and David Warner (17).

The Australian men will have their work cut out for them to qualify as it means beating local nations India and Pakistan, which is always a monumental task on the sub-continent.

So there you have it, some good news for the Australian cricket teams on the sub-continent with a victory each.

However at the end of the day, through gritted teeth, I have to say "well done New Zealand".

Lachlan Barker blogs at cyclonecharlie88.blogspot.com.au. You can follow him on Twitter at @cyclonecharlie8.

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