Australia hold the aces going into game two of the T20I series against New Zealand

Australia celebrate a wicket. © ICC

Ahead of New Zealand’s T20I series against Australia, skipper Sophie Devine said it was the perfect time for her team to spring a surprise on Australia, but the script on Saturday (September 26) had a familiar ring to it. The visitors challenged the hosts for most part of the game, but when it was time to push for victory, they collapsed in a heap, losing by 17 runs.

With little time to breathe going into the second match at the Allan Border field in Brisbane of the series on Sunday (September 27), New Zealand will be desperate to find a win to stay alive in the series, and they will need to make a few changes if they are to do so.

For starters, having controlled much of the first innings with the ball, the visitors’ poor fielding meant they let the momentum slip in the death overs. Devine’s shrewd tactics at the start meant New Zealand were ahead of the game at the beginning. Lea Tahuhu troubled Meg Lanning with her tight lines, and the skipper’s changes of pace had Australia’s batters in a bind. But several mis-fields – a few of which went for four – allowed Australia to claw their way back into the game. A well-set Ashleigh Gardner – who played the defining innings of the match – exploded at the back end, helping the hosts collect 45 runs in the final four overs.

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With the bat, again, the visitors appeared to be a tad too circumspect at the start of the innings. Through her stay in the middle, Devine mentioned the need to work the ball around a little more than usual – show some “finesse”, rather than bludgeon it, she said. But the side’s inability to find the gaps in the field meant the pressure continued to mount.

As the required run rate continued to rise, that conservative approach meant there was too much for the likes of Katey Martin, Amelia Kerr and Lauren Down to do at the back end of the innings. New Zealand were always playing catch up.

Considering the length of their order (Katie Perkins slotted in at No. 9), it seemed New Zealand had chosen the wrong path. On a surface that Gardner said should “play much better” tomorrow, the visitors will do well to reconsider their plans. Additionally, they will need one of their big guns – Devine, Suzie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite – to step up.

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For Australia, their bowlers were the shining light. On a day when their batters were unable to deliver in their trademark style, the bowling attack took charge of the game. The wily Megan Schutt led her way with consistent changes of pace, foxing the Kiwi batters all ends up. The likes of Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince and Sophie Molineux too picked up where they left off in March.

In stark contrast to the visitors, Australia were clinical in the field – charging towards the ball from the outfield to cut down twos, diving around to stop balls piercing the in-field and amplifying the pressure being applied by their bowlers.

In game two, they will be hoping their batters can better adjust to the conditions in store and post a bigger total. But as always, Australia will be confident they can pull off a win from any position.

The ball is in New Zealand’s court. It’s their move.

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.