Australia cruise to victory in T20 series opener

Megan Schutt’s maiden international five-wicket haul helped Australia knock Pakistan out for 118 as the host team completed a comfortable chase at North Sydney Oval. Schutt took 5-15, her maiden international five-wicket haul and the third-best T20I stats by an Australian woman, as Pakistan was bowled out for 118 after deciding to bat first. With regular opener-wicketkeeper, Beth Mooney suffering from soreness after the first innings.

Australia knock Pakistan out for 118

Veteran allrounder Ellyse Perry (57no off 40) was promoted to the top of the order alongside skipper Meg Lanning, and the veteran allrounder seized her chance, hitting her third T20I fifty in her last four innings as Australia reached their target in 13.4 overs. Lanning, playing her first T20 since the Commonwealth Games, struck the boundaries three times before being bowled for 14 off eight by Sadia Iqbal, and Tahlia McGrath met the same fate when Nida Dar rattled her stumps.

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Perry flourished at her favorite venue, hitting seven fours and a six to end undefeated on 57 from 40 balls. Ashleigh Gardner was similarly aggressive on the other end, stroking 30 not out of 19. Earlier, openers Muneeba Ali and Javeria Khan got off to a fast start, putting on 27 in the opening four overs before Perry came in and bowled Muneeba for eight. UltraEdge revealed that a ball down leg had touched the glove of Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof (1) before being pouched by Beth Mooney behind the stumps, resulting in Schutt’s maiden wicket.

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Sadaf Shamas spooned a straightforward catch to Perry at mid-on, and the 30-year-old had a second in the same over. Alana King made one of the summer’s best receptions, jumping to her left and clinging onto a fast one-handed return grab, eliminating the dangerous Dar for an eight-point play. Ayesha Naseem gave Pakistan’s innings some much-needed energy, smashing maximums off King, Brown, and McGrath, but King got the last laugh, bowling the feisty 18-year-old for 24 off 20.

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Schutt’s comeback in the 17th over resulted in the dismissal of Fatima Sana (5), before catching Omaima Sohail (30) and Tuba Hussan (0) in the last over to complete her career-best haul. Australia made no surprises in their first T20I XI since their December tour of India, with Lanning standing in at the top of the order for injured opener Alyssa Healy.

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There were three changes from the dead rubber final T20I in Mumbai, with Lanning returning after missing that trip due to her cricket hiatus, Jess Jonassen returning from the hamstring injury that cut short her subcontinent trip, and Megan Schutt replacing Phoebe Litchfield, Heather Graham, and Kim Garth, who was rested for that game.

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The action now shifts to Hobart, where the second T20I will be contested on Thursday evening at Blundstone Arena. The three-game series gives both sides a chance to fine-tune their preparations for the forthcoming T20 World Cup in South Africa, where Australia is seeking for a third straight triumph.

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