Australia firm favourites for a whitewash even as New Zealand continue to search for answers

Alyssa Healy in action for Australia. © Getty Images

In the lead-up to the series, Australia skipper Meg Lanning played down the possibility of results not mattering as much as the return of the sport in the greater scheme of things and talked about playing to win every single time they step on to the field. True to her words, Australia fielded their strongest elevens (sans Ellyse Perry) to wrap up yet another series in the space of two days.

New Zealand will continue to find it tough when they face the hosts looking for a consolation win in the third and final T20I at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane on Wednesday (September 30).

This was Australia’s tenth series win in a row in the format and they continue to be a side that believes in pulling off a win from any position. New Zealand probably can take the solace from the fact that one of Australia’s last two series defeats came against them back in 2017. But they won’t have it easy considering the T20 World Champions has lost only five of their last 39 T20Is during this period.

Speaking at the post-match media interaction, skipper Sophie Devine admitted they were poor in the first two matches and talked about the need for her side to regroup and reassess their plans if they have to challenge the Australian side.

“We’ll take the next day or two to really regroup, look at our plans again, and how we can execute and what we need to do to beat a strong Australian side,” Devine said. “I think today we were poor again and we were completely outplayed by a quality Australian side in all facets of the game.”

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New Zealand would want more contributions from their stars players, who flattered to deceive, if they want to avoid the ignominy of a whitewash. They might consider making a few changes to alter the balance of the side. They have the option of bringing in Natalie Dodd or allrounder Jess Watkin in place of injured Lauren Down. It remains to be seen if they will hand a cap to the young leg-spinner Deanna Doughty.

“We probably have to look at our plans and what our best matchups are. If we have to make changes in the team, bring someone else to do the job, then the best thing is we have got 17 players to choose from,” Devine added.

Alyssa Healy, who went past former Indian wicket-keeper MS Dhoni to become the most successful keeper in T20Is during the second match, has credited the bowlers for their consistent showing in the format over the last 18 months period.

“Our bowling attack has been sensational for the last 12-18 months, probably even more than that,” Healy said. “Full credit to them: They have worked really hard on their plans and bowling in this COVID break. It is great to see them come out and get the reward, especially, someone like Sophie (Molineux) today. Just shows what she can do on the big stage again.”

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Considering their policy regarding team selection Australia is unlikely to make many changes. But the cramped nature of the schedule may tempt them to make a couple of changes ahead of the Rose Bowl series. One from the trio of Tahlia McGrath, Anna Sutherland, and Belinda Vakarewa will be hoping to get a go if the “element of management” kicks in.

“All the spinners did a fantastic job for us. If required, the pacers did it as well. Delissa Kimmince today, Nic (Nicola) Carey got one over, she could have got a couple of over there. They are all lining up and waiting for a crack as well. It is a nice problem to have at the moment,” Healy said.

Spinners from both sides could come into play with the likelihood of the same pitch being used for the final match of the series and if that’s the case Australia are firm favourites to make it 3-0 with their superior array of spinners.

Squads:

Australia: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry (subject to fitness), Megan Schutt, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham, Belinda Vakarewa.

New Zealand: Sophie Devine (c), Amy Satterthwaite (vc), Suzie Bates, Natalie Dodd, Deanna Doughty, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu, Jess Watkin.