Gardner, Schutt guide Australia women to 17-run win over NZ in first T20I

Australia's Jess Jonassen and keeper Alyssa Healy celebrate a fall of wicket against New Zealand (Photo/ ICC Twitter)

Brisbane [Australia], September 26 (ANI): Ashleigh Gardner's 61-run knock and Megan Schutt's four-wicket haul helped Australia to defeat New Zealand women by 17 runs in the first T20I of the three-match series here at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane.
This match between Australia and New Zealand was the first international cricket fixture to allow some spectators inside the stadium ever since the game was put on a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The second T20I between both these sides will be played on September 27 at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane.
Chasing 139, New Zealand got off to a steady start as openers Sophie Devine and Maddy Green put on 27 runs for the first wicket but their stand was cut short as Delissa Kimmince dismissed Green (5) in the fifth over of the innings.
Australia then got the crucial wicket of Devine (29) in the ninth over as the Kiwi skipper was sent back to the pavilion by Kimmince and this reduced New Zealand to 43/2 in the ninth over.
Suzie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite then put on a brief stand of 22 runs, but their vigil at the crease was ended by Jess Jonassen as she dismissed Satterthwaite (9) in the 13th over.
Bates and Katey Martin revived the hopes of White Ferns of going away with a victory as the duo put on 40 runs for the fourth wicket, but with 35 runs needed off the last three overs, Martin (21) and Bates (33) were sent back to the pavilion by Megan Schutt in the 18th over.
After this, New Zealand was not able to recover and the side stumbled to a 17-run loss.
Earlier, Ashleigh Gardner's knock of 61 runs guided Australia to 138/6 in the allotted twenty overs.
Put in to bat first, Australia found itself in a spot of bother as the side was reduced to 46/3 in the ninth over. Alyssa Healy (6), Beth Mooney (2), and Meg Lanning (24) all lost their wickets cheaply.
Australia kept on losing wickets at regular intervals but Gardner held the fort for the hosts and she went on to smash six fours and three sixes through the course of her 61-run knock.
In the end, Nicola Carey (7*) and Georgia Wareham (9*) were able to add some valuable runs in the final over to take Australia's total past the 135-run mark. For New Zealand, skipper Sophie Devine scalped three wickets.
Brief Scores: Australia 138/6 (Ashleigh Gardner 61, Meg Lanning 24, Sophie Devine 3-18) defeat New Zealand 121/7 (Suzie Bates 33, Sophie Devine 29, Megan Schutt 4-23) by 17 runs. (ANI)