Gardner smashed an unbeaten 18-ball 48 after Perry, McGrath added 101 together
Innings break Australia Women 269 for 8 (Perry 68, McGrath 57, Gardner 48*, Tahuhu 3-53) vs New Zealand Women
Having won the toss and elected to bowl, New Zealand were superb in containing Australia to 37 for 1 in the powerplay with Alyssa Healy falling to a frustrated-looking swipe to deep midwicket on the penultimate ball of that period after Frankie Mackay had pulled her length back slightly to draw an attempted pull, which landed in the safe hands of Amelia Kerr.
Hayley Jensen conceded eight off her first over but went for just five in her next three, which included the valuable wicket of Meg Lanning, who after being similarly tied down, chased a wide one and sent a thick edge through to keeper Katey Martin.
Rachael Haynes had been the glue the top-order together, but when Lea Tahuhu produced an absolute gem which nipped back from outside off to clip the top of off-stump, Australia were teetering at 56 for 3.
Perry and Beth Mooney steadied the innings with Perry picking out gaps with precision as she swept Mackay to fine leg and drove her through the covers for consecutive fours. But at the halfway point of the innings, they were yet to pass the hundred-run mark and scoring at fewer than four runs an over. Then Mooney dragged one on off Amelia to end the partnership at 57 with the legspinner having figures of 1 for 10 from her first five overs.
With the pressure mounting on Australia heading into the final 10 overs, it showed momentarily on Perry as she made a late decision to reverse-lap Jess Kerr and missed completely.
McGrath then eased the tension in the following over – which went for 20 runs in all – pulling and driving Hayley Jensen for back-to-back fours. Perry soon got in on the act, clubbing a waist-high full toss over the rope at deep backward square to bring up her fifty and punishing the free hit over wide long on for six.
That signaled the Australian acceleration as McGrath continued to pierce the field with plenty of innovation, bringing up her fifty with a second consecutive four off Amelia. It took a spectacular catch by Maddy Green to break their stand on 101 when Perry drove back over Tahuhu’s head and Green launched herself to her left from long-on to pull the ball down. McGrath then fell for 57 off 56 balls, mistiming an attempted straight hit to Suzie Bates at mid-off.
That brought Gardner to the crease, and she played her role to perfection, piling on the runs that had been missing from the start of the innings, including a 75m six off Tahuhu into the considerable wind whipping through the Basin Reserve and another over deep midwicket off the last ball of the innings.
Alana King and Amanda-Jade Wellington fell cheaply, but with Gardner doing her thing at the other end, Australia salvaged plenty from an inauspicious start, scoring 105 runs off the last 10 overs.
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo