New Zealand beat Ireland by ten wickets in the opening match of their series in Dublin, despite a spirited display with the bat by the Girls in Green.
Before the match, there was a special presentation to former Irish captain Isobel Joyce from legend Miriam Grealey to mark the occasion of her 150th international appearance in Zimbabwe earlier this year.
After Irish skipper Laura Delany had won the toss and elected to bat, the 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, playing on her home ground at YMCA, took the reins of the innings and played a number of thundering shots to bring up her first international half-century on her 43rd appearance.
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.
Debutant keeper Bernadine Bezuidenhout had a first game to remember, taking five dismissals, which included three catches and two stumpings, while former Scotland international Leigh Kasperek was most successful with the ball, claiming 3 for 25.
The New Zealand 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 11 fours and three sixes in an unbeaten 77* from just 38 balls, with Bates making an undefeated 63* from 29 balls, as the target was passed in just 11 overs.
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.”
The next encounter between the two sides is at the same venue on Friday where the sides will move into the first of a three-match ODI series.
IRELAND 136-8 (20 overs; G Lewis 61, C Joyce 30; L Kasperek 3-25)
NEW ZEALAND 142-0 (11 overs; J Watkins 77*, S Bates 63*)
New Zealand won by 10 wickets