Cricket: Shorthanded White Ferns comfortably defeated in opening T20 international against England

The White Ferns have been soundly beaten in their opening Twenty20 international against England at Dunedin's University Oval on Tuesday, giving the tourists a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Set a daunting total of 161 for victory, the shorthanded Ferns lacked the firepower to genuinely threaten what would have been a record runchase for a women's T20I on NZ soil, finishing at 133/5 for a 27-run defeat.

Veteran opener Suzie Bates' 65 off 51 balls was the only bright note in a batting line-up sorely missing Sophie Devine and Amelia Kerr, who were absent on WPL duty, as were a handful of first-choice English players.

Thne English bowlers squeezed the life out of the NZ chase through the middle third of the innings, with Lauren Bell (2/29) leading the way after captain Heather Knight's superb 63 off 39 balls had set the tone for the visitors with the bat. 

Suzie Bates top scored for New Zealand.
Suzie Bates top scored for New Zealand. Photo credit: Getty Images

After being sent in to bat, England made a sound start to their innings, putting 27 runs on the board before Fran Jonas made the breakthrough for New Zealand by having Tammy Beaumont caught at mid-off by Hannah Rowe.

Sophia Dunkley put her foot to the floor with a slew of boundaries until her efforts were cut short by Lea Tahuhu, who snared the opener caught by wicketkeeper Izzy Gaze with England's score looking healthy at 61/2 in the 8th over.

The middle stages of the innings was where England really made hay, when Knight combined with Maia Bouchier (43no) to slay the NZ attack for a 91-run partnership off just 64 deliveries.

Knight departed in the 18th over, with New Zealand doing well to limit the damage to just 11 runs in the final two overs. 

The White Ferns' chase began in dire fashion, losing opener Gaze to a leading edge in just the third delivery of the innings.

Bates and Georgia Plimmer 21 off 24) stabilised the New Zealanders with a 59-run second-wicket partnership, until Plimmer's departure saw the run rate rapidly climb.

Brooke Halliday made some handy contributions alongside Bates, until the veteran was caught deep off the bowling of Bell to leave New Zealand floundering at 109/4 in the 17th over and well on the road to defeat.

The series now moves to Nelson for the second match on Friday.