Australia’s women have made a strong start to their T20 international series against Pakistan, beating the tourists by eight wickets at North Sydney Oval.
Coming off a 3-0 sweep of the 50-over series against Pakistan, the Aussies continued their preparations for the Twenty20 World Cup with a comprehensive win.
Megan Schutt was the star, taking 5-15 in a brilliant spell as Pakistan were bowled out for 118. The Australians cruised to victory in the 14th over, led by an unbeaten 57 off 40 balls from Ellyse Perry.
Muneeba Ali and Javeria Khan got off to a good start for Pakistan, with Khan smashing Darcie Brown for six in the opening over, and the team moved to 0-26 off four overs.
Perry made the breakthrough, bowling Ali for eight with the second ball of her spell.
Schutt then chimed in with two wickets in the sixth over, dismissing Bismah Maroof (1) and Sadaf Shamas (0) to have Pakistan 3-28. When Perry enticed Khan (16 off 21) to chop on, the tourists were in real strife.
Omaima Sohail and Nida Dar started putting the pressure back on with a few boundaries, before Dar (8) smashed a ball back at Alana King, who dived to her right to take a brilliant return catch.
Young batter Ayesha Naseem came in and showed no nerves whatsoever. The 18-year-old had the crowds jumping for cover — her clean ball-striking saw her smash a straight drive for four and three deliveries into the stands in quick time, the third of which came off Alana King.
But the leg-spinner had the last laugh, dropping a ball fuller and cleaning up Naseem for 24 off 20. Her cameo innings brought Pakistan to 6-94 near the end of the 16th over.
Fatima Sana (5 off 4 balls) scored a quick boundary, but then Meg Lanning took a diving catch off Schutt.
Australia’s bowling depth was on display, with Lanning calling on seven bowlers. The tourists took advantage of Darcie Brown’s pace (0-34), but King’s 2-16 and Perry’s 2-3 were impressive.
It was Schutt, however, who stole the show. She dismissed Sohail and Tuba Hassan with similar deliveries, both batters skying to mid-off to finish with a five-wicket haul.
Jess Jonassen trapped Aiman Anwer in front as Pakistan were bowled out off the full 20 overs.
The total never looked like being enough given the dimensions of North Sydney Oval, and the Australians made short work of the target.
The tourists had some early success, with Meg Lanning (14 off 8) falling to one that stayed low from spinner Sadia Iqbal.
But Perry, who was a surprise opener, took charge with some big hitting, and she was joined by Tahlia McGrath who also played aggressively.
The pair moved the score to 1-49 after six overs at the end of the power play.
The Australians were on top, but Pakistan hit back when Nida Dar got through McGrath’s defences when she tried a sweep shot, dismissing the all-rounder for 14. That made it 2-55 in the eighth over.
Mooney did not come out at four, with Ashleigh Gardner walking out to the crease instead.
A combination of good luck and poor fielding saw Australia maintain a strong run rate, with Perry and Gardner scoring regular boundaries.
By the halfway mark, the Australians were 2-81, needing just 38 to win.
The home side did not ease off, with Perry heading for 50 and Gardner smashing two fours and a six off an over from Iqbal.
Perry nearly departed on 49, but Anwer spilled a catch on the boundary after a big hit down the ground, allowing the Aussie star to reach her half-century.
Fittingly, she hit the winning single to clinch Australia’s 10th-straight win at North Sydney Oval with 6.2 overs remaining. Gardner finished unbeaten on 30 off 19.
The second game is in Hobart on Thursday before the series finishes in Canberra on Sunday.