Even with the New Zealand WHITE FERNS’ superb Twenty20 International track record against Australia in recent times, this one was one for the books.
It was the lowest ever total by any country against the WHITE FERNS. Australia bundled out in 16 overs for just 66, by a searing team attack defending a lowish total at a splendid ground. New Zealand’s maiden Twenty20 International appearance at Adelaide Oval would go down in history in more ways than one.
Sixty-six all out was also Australia’s all-time sorriest tally against anyone (they had previously sloped off for 73 against the WHITE FERNS at the Basin Reserve in 2009/10) and ensured a 47-run win would claim the series for Suzie Bates and her team in Australia — their fifth Twenty20 series victory on the bounce over the past three years.
It came as the WHITE FERNS headed into a must-win clash looking to defend the Trans-Tasman Trophy that they had also sewn up in New Zealand last summer.
Australia had lost a clump of three wickets with the score parked on seven — captain Meg Lanning departing at the beginning of the fourth over and the scoreboard attendants on the historic Adelaide Oval stand looking after the runs updates still idle when an under pressure Ashleigh Gardner departed scoreless yet again in the fifth.
Australia had already lost Beth Mooney early — Amelia Kerr, who had been given time off school to tour by Tawa College, in the game early with a runout.
Doing all the damage at the top was the aggressive pace duo of Lea Tahuhu — leading the attack in the form of her life this season — and Holly Huddleston, fired up for the challenge and going from strength to strength.
After facing Australia's leg-spin-heavy attack, Tahuhu and Huddleston proved that pace (circa 120kph, which is fast relative to the women's game) was just as effective in the sunny conditions.
The athletic pair gave little quarter, Tahuhu coming off a strong game in Geelong when she had strung together dot after dot ball to put Australia in the vice.
Here in Adelaide, Suzie Bates had elected to bat first on the stunning South Australian day but the New Zealand line-up had been restricted to 113 for eight after losing their way through the middle.
Now, in reply, the world number one-ranked Australians collapsed, far more dramatically, to five wickets for just nine runs in the face of the opening spell, permitted no partnerships of note.
"We bowled extremely well,” said a chuffed Bates afterwards. “We’ve been light on runs the whole series, but Lea Tahuhu and Holly Huddleston have really put the Australian top order under pressure and I think that's been the difference.”
Leg-spinner Amelia Kerr was making her maiden appearance on foreign soil after having been called up to the side to replace the injured Leigh Kasperek.
The 16-year-old was a young star through the middle, where she bowled with Anna Peterson, and impressed in the field.
Kerr coolly slotted back in after her debut home summer and kept the pressure on with 2-16 off her three overs — and, she held a one-handed diving screamer to get rid of Molly Strano.
The New Zealand innings had by comparison started well, but once again young Australian leg-spinner Amanda-Jane Wellington made a dramatic entrance, taking four wickets in a big flurry and putting herself on a hat-trick as a clump of key wickets fell.
Ironically it was Anna Peterson — fresh off a hat-trick of her own — who found herself facing the hat-trick ball, and there was a wry smile as she blocked and averted becoming a victim.
Four wickets toppled in six balls, however, leaving Bates with the top score of 31 from 34 balls — but she was already gone, the first of Wellington’s rampage of wickets.
Bates (above) and Rachel Priest (17) had put on a 36-run stand before Amy Satterthwaite added 18 from 18 balls.
Satterthwaite was one of two stumping victims for the classy Healy, while Katey Martin departed in unusual fashion, having turned to get sharply back into her crease during another pounce from Healy but accidentally spading the ball straight into her wicket.
From 69/1, the WHITE FERNS plummeted to 71/5, and Australia was cock-a-hoop even after a late rally from Peterson and Maddy Green added double figure scores.
Amanda-Jane Wellington's fellow spinner Jess Jonassen was also a standout, but while the WHITE FERNS at times struggled against the spin attack, they proved they had potent weapons of their own.
Both teams now return to New Zealand to contest the Rose Bowl ODI Series in Auckland and Mount Maunganui, starting at Eden Park on Sunday. The match is live on SKY Sport with the WHITE FERNS eager to reclaim the trophy from embattled Australia.