Ash Gardner came close to breaking the record for the fastest half-century in women's one-day international cricket ©Getty Images

Australia thrashed hosts New Zealand in the Women's Cricket World Cup to underline their status as tournament favourites.

Batting first at Basin Reserve in Wellington, the Australians scored 269 runs for the loss of eight wickets.

Ellyse Perry scored 68 runs, Tahlia McGrath 57 and Ash Gardner a rapid-fire, unbeaten 48 as Australia's middle order delivered them to a healthy score.

Gardner's 48 off 18 balls - featuring four sixes and four fours - ensured the innings finished with a flourish.

Gardner fell just short of setting a new record for the fastest 50 in women's one-day international cricket, with 20 balls the benchmark.

It was Gardner's first action of the World Cup, having been ruled out with COVID-19 until this point.

Perry was soon impressing with the ball, dismissing White Ferns captain Sophie Devine in the fifth over, before a salvo from teenager Darcie Brown left New Zealand really reeling.

Brown took three wickets as New Zealand collapsed from 22 without loss to 35-5.

Four more bowlers chipped in with wickets - Gardner, McGrath, Amanda-Jade Wellington and Megan Schutt - as New Zealand were all out for 128, losing by 141 runs.

Brown was the pick of the bowlers, with three wickets for just 22 runs and the team's best economy rate.

With three wins from three, Australia have the maximum six points and are well on their way to the semi-finals.

The hosts have two wins and two defeats after four matches.

Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are both winless, play tomorrow in Hamilton Seddon Park.

This 50-over International Cricket Council World Cup had been due to be played in 2021.