Australia’s easy T20 win over New Zealand hinged on the two lives Meg Lanning received and the two she gave.
The Southern Stars’ captain made the White Ferns pay dearly for dropping her twice when the Australian innings was in the balance.
Lanning was then unusually sloppy in the field, missing a couple of catches herself, but New Zealand did not capitalise and Australia cruised to a 40-run win on Friday at the MCG.
Lanning and Elyse Villani came together with Australia struggling at 2-20.
New Zealand had won the toss and Ashleigh Gardner had a nightmare debut, run out for a golden duck when she did not return to her crease quickly enough.
Lanning was dropped when she was on 20 and 24 and those misses proved critical.
She and Villani amassed 110 for the third wicket, setting up Australia’s solid 4-151 from 20 overs.
Villani top-scored with 73no from 47 balls and Lanning made 60 from 52.
Lanning then dropped two catches off the bowling of Jess Jonassen but, by contrast, the Kiwis never looked like they might make Australia pay and they only managed 8-111 from their 20 overs.
Amy Satterthwaite top-scored with 40 from 38 balls, while Amanda-Jane Wellington snared 3-17 off four overs in her T20 international debut.
Villani, who also had a rough day in the field, said she and Lanning would pay their penance at Saturday’s optional training session before the next T20 on Sunday in Geelong.
“Obviously, it’s very unusual for Meg to drop catches,” Villani said.
“In saying that, the good thing is it didn’t cost us in any way.”
Villani usually opens for Australia in T20s, but thrived at No.4 as she and Lanning wrested control of the match from NZ.
“Meg and I fortunately have batted a lot together and I guess it (their mindset) never changes – and that’s just to play really positively and try to score off as many balls as possible,” Villani said.
“The scoreboard probably looked worse than what it felt out there.”
Villani added that Gardner would bounce back from her unfortunate international debut.
“Speaking from experience, I know how nerve-wracking it can be – you start thinking it’s a different game, when it’s not really,” Villani said.
“She’s going to be better for the experience.”
New Zealand captain Suzie Bates was left ruing a below-par performance and would demand a fightback in Geelong.
“It’s a pretty harsh game, Twenty20, especially when you’re playing a quality side,” she said.
“If you get a chance, you know it’s your day and you bat with a little bit more courage.
“We don’t need Lanning and Villani to bat like that, so we just have to be better and take our chances.
“That’s not how we want to play our cricket – we’re much better than that.”