White Ferns beaten in Twenty20

A dominant all-round performance from Australia's Shelley Nitschke led the hosts to a nine-wicket win over the White Ferns in a rain-interrupted women's Twenty20 cricket international.

The South Australian took two wickets with the ball then led the runchase with a dominant unbeaten 54 off 33 deliveries as Australia cruised to their reduced target of 82 off 12 overs with 11 balls to spare.

It was New Zealand's first involvement in a Twenty20 double-header, with the match serving as a curtainraiser to the men's international at a grey Sydney Cricket Ground.

The sides were meeting for the fifth time this month after they shared the Rose Bowl series 2-2, with the fifth match a washout. They meet again in the World Cup match at North Sydney Oval on March 8.

Two rain breaks shortened the contest as New Zealand, sent in to bat under leaden skies, posted a competitive 91 for five off 14 overs.

Australia's target was revised to 95 off 14, then 82 off 12, and they were rarely troubled.

New Zealand tasted early success when allrounder Sophie Devine removed opener Leah Poulton for one, caught at mid-off by Nicola Browne.

But senior players Nitschke and Lisa Sthlekar led the chase home with an unbroken second wicket stand of 77.

Sthlekar was 23 not out while left-hander Nitschke dominated, hitting eight boundaries in her unbeaten knock.

New Zealand captain Haidee Tiffen used seven bowlers in search of the breakthrough.

Earlier, quickfire innings from allrounders Kate Pulford and Devine saw New Zealand post a competitive total after rain interrupted the innings.

After the early run out of Rachel Priest, opener Pulford cracked four boundaries in her topscore of 29 off 24 before she was caught off Nitschke's spin.

Devine hit 23 off 16 late in the innings before she was stumped off Sthlekar.

Australia's spin duo took four wickets between them, Nitschke the pick with two for 16 off three.

New Zealand suffered a setback on match eve when vice-captain Aimee Mason returned home after hearing of a friend's death.


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