Australia Women captain says “no excuses” after failing to chase down modest 129-run target
The opening fixture of the ICC Women's World Twenty20 on Sunday (March 23) was a party waiting to come alive, but Australia was strangulated superbly by New Zealand on a surface that aided the slower bowlers. Afterwards, Meg Lanning, the Australia captain, was at a loss for words to explain the seven-run loss as Australia's title defence began on a shaky note.
Lanning wasn't particularly pleased with her team's approach to a straightforward chase of 129. The top three batters were blown away inside the sixth over to expose the slightly longish tail much earlier than they would have liked.
Lanning blamed poor shot selection for her side's defeat but didn't put it beyond Australia to launch a fightback. “It's not ideal," she said. "We simply didn't play at our best but a format like this doesn't allow too much time to think. We have to turn things around pretty quickly and we're capable of doing that."
Both halves of the game had a similar template. Australia had a measure of proceedings until a late burst gave New Zealand a fighting total of 128. Lanning felt that was ten runs too many but didn't try to cover up for the batters' inability to get past the line. “I think they got away from us a little at the end, we would've ideally looked to get them under 120, but there are no excuses for not chasing that down. We needed to play straight early on, which we didn't. We probably didn't give ourselves enough time to get in and adjust to the conditions here. But I'm sure the batters are all aware of that and will rectify their mistakes in the next game,” she said.
A win first up against the defending champion would lead to excitement and delight, you'd imagine, but it was just relief that was written all over Nicola Browne's face at the post-match press conference.
Browne's cameo of 29 off just 19 balls gave New Zealand a much-needed lift at the halfway mark, a passage of play that proved decisive in the end. Browne, who also picked up the important wicket of Sarah Coyte with Australia needing 12 off 8 balls, was quite comfortable in wielding the long handle, even as some of her colleagues struggled. "It was similar in terms of what the top order was facing, but I thought it came on to the bat nicely towards the end,” she said.
"I love the challenges associated with the big matches. Experience teaches you to handle different situations differently. I felt comfortable out there and it was great to get a couple of important partnerships with (Katie) Perkins and Katy Martin at the end with the bat, and on the field, I thought the key was a couple of early wickets because 130 in women's cricket is always a tough total irrespective of the wicket."