Gardner powers Aus win in cricket's return

Ashleigh Gardner hit 61 to help Australia to a 17-run victory in the first T20 against New Zealand.
Ashleigh Gardner hit 61 to help Australia to a 17-run victory in the first T20 against New Zealand.

New Zealand captain Sophie Devine says her team must learn to "put the foot on the throat" after refusing to blame two contentious decisions for their loss to Australia in international cricket's return to the country on Saturday.

Playing their first game since winning the Twenty20 World Cup in front of more than 80,000 fans in March, Australia held their nerve in a 17-run Twenty20 win.

It came despite some early batting wobbles and was aided by two umpiring calls - both going directly against Devine - at Brisbane's Allan Border Field in front of a restricted attendance of just 380 fans.

First, with Australia 5-83, Devine (3-18 and 29 off 34) was denied a fourth wicket despite Nicola Carey edging behind, Carey's batting partner Ashleigh Gardner admitting post-game her teammate had "middled it".

Then, leading the charge in pursuit of Australia's 6-138, Devine was given out stumped sharply down the legside by Alyssa Healy in a narrow third-umpire call that split opinion.

Her exit halted the visitor's momentum as Megan Schutt finished with 4-23 ahead of game two on Sunday. The third clash between the sides will take place on Wednesday at the same ground.

Devine took both calls on the chin and said New Zealand needed to "put the foot on the throat, to put it bluntly" as they continued to search for their first win in any format against Australia since 2017.

"If the technology is available across the series then absolutely (use it), but we know there is no DRS at all this series so we have to live with it," she said.

"I have full trust in the umpires, but they are going to make mistakes just like us players do too ... we are not all robots.

"We've just got to be better, we can't blame anyone else but ourselves."

Showing no signs of rust from the coronavirus-enforced break, Gardner dug the hosts out of a hole, blasting 61 off 41 with three lusty sixes and an exquisite off-drive to bring up 50 from 37 balls.

The victory pushed Australia to 1-0 ahead of the matches on Sunday and Wednesday, which will be followed by a three-game ODI series.

The big-hitter said a concerted effort on fitness during the break had already made a difference.

"We had the world's longest pre-season, so it was nice to spend a bit of time in the gym and the running track. I feel pretty fit and strong and it's paying dividends for all the players," she said.

The match was former New Zealand captain Amy Satterthwaite's 100th appearance as she marked her return from maternity leave.

Australian Associated Press