The New Zealand White Ferns, the third-ranked team in the world, completed a dominant win over a courageous Ireland Women’s team at YMCA Sports Club in Dublin.
Under bright blue summer skies Ireland captain Laura Delany won the toss and elected to bat. After White Ferns’ opening bowlers Lea Tahuhu and Leigh Kasperek struck early, removing Clare Shillington (0) and Mary Waldron (4), Ireland’s Cecelia Joyce and Gaby Lewis set about trying to wrestle back the momentum.
Cecelia Joyce looked confident from the outset, smashing a six and three fours in a breezy innings of 30 off 29 balls, before top-edging a pull-shot and being caught at mid-wicket.
With the loss of Joyce, Lewis took the reins of the innings and played a number of thundering shots to bring up her first international half-century for Ireland. Lewis’ 61 runs off 45 balls was only brought to an end looking for quick runs in the latter stages of the innings.
The Ireland Women’s innings came to a close on 138-8 from their 20 overs.
The White Ferns’ reply was swift and dominant – with openers Jess Watkins and Suzie Bates registering a 50-partnership within five overs. 20-year old debutant Jess Watkins was by no means overshadowed by her world-class partner Bates, blasting 77* (38 balls), with Bates registering 63* (29 balls). The winning runs were hit by Bates with a six over long off.
The match provided an insight into why the White Ferns are ranked the world’s third-best team in women’s cricket, but also provided glimpses of hope for Ireland, with the batting of Lewis the stand-out performance.
Speaking after the game, Gaby Lewis said: “Obviously it was important to get a good start for the series. It was great to put on a good start with the bat and I really think we showed of our skills and played with the freedom we talked about before the match.
“The New Zealand side are class batters and a pleasure to watch. Hopefully we can improve our bowling - we know how we want to bowl, it’s just a case of executing our skills. Hopefully we can master that by the end of the series.”