Australia ride to victory on Nitschke fifty
Australia 1 for 83 (Nitschke 54*) beat New Zealand 5 for 91 by 9 wickets on D/L method
Strong all-round performances from Shelley Nitschke and Lisa Sthalekar inspired Australia to a nine-wicket victory over New Zealand in a rain-shortened Twenty20 International at the SCG. Australia encountered few difficulties in reeling in a revised 12-over target of 82, achieving the total with 11 balls to spare and losing only Leah Poulton along the way.
The New Zealanders were restricted to 5 for 91 from their 14 overs, due largely to the efforts of Nitschke (2-16) and Sthalekar (2-28). Kate Pulford (29 from 24 balls) and Sophie Devine (23 from 16) provided bright patches of resistance on a difficult pitch, but fell before they could inflict meaningful damage upon their opponents. Pulford was removed by Nitschke in the seventh over, and the left-arm finger spinner returned for the vital scalp of Suzie Bates en route to match-best figures.
The Australians suffered a setback in the first over of their run-chase, losing Poulton to Bates, but thrived thereafter. Nitschke blasted eight boundaries during her unbeaten 54 from 33 deliveries, while Sthalekar contributed a more measured 23 not out from 25 balls to guide the hosts to victory in 10.1 overs.
"The win - although it doesn't count for anything - was probably more a psychological thing for us going into the World Cup," Nitschke said. "In the first two games in New Zealand they beat us quite convincingly, and then we got the series.
"And this win gives us a little bit of momentum for when we come out for the first game of the World Cup." Australia, who drew the recent Rose Bowl series with New Zealand 2-2, start their World Cup defence from March 7.