Alana King took one of the greatest return catches of all time but it was Megan Schutt who bowled Australia to victory in the opening T20 against Pakistan with a stunning spell that almost saw her go to the top of the record list.
Bowling with a point to prove after they were both overlooked for the ICC T20 Team of the Year, it was Schutt who tore through Pakistan’s middle order to restrict the visitors to just 118 at North Sydney Oval.
Playing at the ground where she and the Strikers won last year’s WBBL title, the swing bowler finished with the incredible figures of 5-15 to claim the third best figures by an Australian woman in T20 cricket.
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MATCH CENTRE: Australia vs Pakistan, first T20, live scoreboard
The party started when she removed skipper Bismah Maroof and star batter Sadaf Shamas in the sixth over, before she dismissed the dangerous Omaima Sohail who was looking good on 30.
Schutt returned at the death where she picked up two more wickets but missed out on supplanting Molly Strano (5-10) and Jess Jonassen (5-12) at the top of the list, simply claiming the record for a seamer.
KING’S CROWNING MOMENT
Alana King has had an incredible 12 months in international cricket, and you get the feeling her best is yet to come after the young spinner plucked a screamer off her own bowling that left the commentators in disbelief.
King took 2-16 from her four overs but the highlight came just four balls after the drinks break when Nida Dar smacked a drive back down the ground which ended up in King’s outstretched right hand.
It wasn’t a simple reflex action either – she had to take a few steps to her right and then dive to get her hand to the ball, with teammates immediately rushing over to congratulate her.
“I think she surprised herself because this had some pace on it,” Mel Jones said in commentary.
“That’s not a fluke. That’s skill.”
PERRY’S TIME TO SHINE
Everyone was expecting to see Meg Lanning and Beth Mooney open in the run chase, but the latter was nowhere to be seen.
It was later revealed that she was dealing with a minor niggle after her sizzling century in the third ODI, and the decision to drop her down the order allowed Ellyse Perry to open as she tries to lock down her spot in the team ahead of the World Cup.
The veteran all-rounder was outstanding with the ball, knocking over both openers to finish with 2-3 from her two overs, and she was equally impressive with the bat as she brought up her half-century off 36 deliveries to guide Australia to a seven-wicket win.
Perry (57 not out) may stay at the top for Thursday’s second match which has been in the headlines after star Ashleigh Gardner called out Cricket Australia for holding a game on a day that has brought “hurt and mourning” to First Nations people.
Gardner clearly wasn’t distracted by the events of the past few days, smashing an unbeaten 30 off 19 deliveries as Australia won with 38 balls to spare.
Australia XI: Beth Mooney (WK), Meg Lanning (c), Tahlia McGrath, Ashleigh Gardner, Ellyse Perry, Grace Harris, Annabel Sutherland, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Megan Schutt, Darcie Brown
Pakistan XI: Muneeba Ali (WK), Javeria Khan, Bismah Maroof (c), Sadaf Shamas, Omaima Sohail, Ayesha Nasem, Fatima Sana, Tuba Hassan, Aiman Anwar, Sadia Iqbal, Nida Dar
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