The White Ferns have crashed out of the Twenty20 World Cup, eliminated with a four-run defeat to Australia.
Needing a win to advance to the semifinals, and to knock Australia out of their home competition, the White Ferns couldn't chase down 156 for victory this afternoon, as Australia triumphed in Melbourne to move into a semifinal showdown against either South Africa or England.
Both teams are sides the White Ferns would have fancied their chances against, but they were ultimately done in by a tough draw, and some poor batting throughout the tournament.
To make the semifinals, the White Ferns had to beat at least one of India and Australia - arguably the two best sides in the competition - and while they ran them close, their lack of power hitting in the middle order eventually proved fatal.
Their performance against Bangladesh – making 91 before salvaging a shaky 17-run win – was well below expectations, but otherwise the White Ferns were much what was expected of them – a decent side, but a cut below the best, and lacking depth if their star batters failed to fire.
It's now two straight T20 World Cups that the White Ferns have failed to reach the knockout stage. Throw in a group stage departure at the last ODI World Cup, and there has been little to savour of late at pinnacle tournaments.
They had a chance to change that against Australia today, where a victory over the title favourites, on their home soil, would have been a momentous win.
Instead, they came up short once again, falling to their fifth straight Twenty20 defeat to their trans-Tasman rivals.
Australia's 155-5 was led by Beth Mooney's 60 from 50 balls, as she provided an anchoring innings complemented by a handful of cameos, the most important being Rachael Haynes' 19 not out from eight balls, as Australia added 41 runs from their last four overs.
Once more, the New Zealand spinners were the best on show, with Amelia Kerr (1-22), Leigh Kasperek (1-29) and Anna Peterson (2-31) all tidy, but their seamers were sloppy, with Lea Tahuhu surprisingly only receiving one over, which went for eight.
It left the White Ferns needing to pull off their largest T20 runchase for victory, but they were again hurt by their lack of power options.
Suzie Bates made just 14, concluding a poor tournament which saw her score just 48 runs at a strike rate of 81, while after starting the tournament with a world record sixth-straight T20 fifty, Sophie Devine failed to reach that mark in her final three games.
Opener Rachel Priest never produced a big score in the tournament, making just 17 today, and when Devine fell for 31 from 36 balls in the White Ferns' chase, 75 from 41 balls was still required – too big a task for their appropriately middling middle-order.
Maddy Green gave it a go as 16 came from the 15th over, but she fell in the same manner as Devine – stumped off Georgia Wareham – for 28, and when Megan Schutt removed Amelia Kerr and Hayley Jensen with back-to-back balls in the following over, the White Ferns needed a miracle.
Twenty runs were needed off the final over, and although Katey Martin finished the game with a four and a six, it was too little, too late, as the White Ferns' Cup dream disappeared.