Onus on seniors as New Zealand aim to end 10-match winless streak in ODIs
Sophie Devine (L), bowling coach Jacob Oram and Maddy Green during the New Zealand training. © NZC/Twitter
The last time New Zealand won an ODI was in February 2019 against India. Since then, they have lost six matches against Australia and three against South Africa. Their loss against England on Tuesday was New Zealand’s 10th consecutive in the 50-over format. Their skipper Sophie Devine would be looking at their senior and experienced players to come to the fore when they take the field in Dunedin in the second ODI on Friday (February 26).
New Zealand's quest to level the three-game series just got tougher with their lead seamer Lea Tahuhu getting ruled out due to a hamstring injury. Their bowling in the first game fell flat and that in turn helped Tammy Beaumont free her arms and run away with the chase. Jess Kerr is the other seamer in the squad, in addition to Gaby Sullivan, who has replaced Tahuhu.
The move to open the batting with Hayley Jensen worked well for the Kiwis, as the allrounder top-scored with 53. Apart from the ball off Sarah Glenn, which she chopped on to her stumps, her judgement of the lengths was accurate. That would be something the other batters would look to emulate.
Apart from Jensen, the other positive from the match for the home team was Brooke Halliday, who went onto score an ODI fifty on debut coming in at seven. To see her drive the ball fluently through the off side and handle the spin of Glenn and Sophie Ecclestone would hold her in good stead.
"Look, senior players have to stand up. We absolutely have to take the cop for that one. We didn't perform well enough and we were 75 runs short (with the bat),” Devine was quoted as saying to stuff.co.nz after the first game. The New Zealand skipper, batting at four, will have to shoulder the responsibility of anchoring the innings. Her ability to tee off and hit the ball out of the park is quite well known - she has the fastest T20 century in T20s - and it's up to her to register an ODI win under her captaincy.
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On the other hand, everything looked perfect for England with everyone contributing in the roles that were assigned to them. Heather Knight used as many as seven bowlers in the match and all of them returned with wickets. Natasha Farrant, returning to ODI format after eight years, was brilliant alongside Katherine Brunt with the new ball while Sophie Ecclestone led the spin attack to perfection.
To nitpick, Danielle Wyatt's form could be a concern for the tourists, with her last score over 50 coming way back in 2019. But with the likes of Natalie Sciver, Fran Wilson and Amy Jones in the middle-order, England would breathe easy heading into the contest on Friday.
With the Women's World Cup to be played at home next year around this time, New Zealand would be desperately seeking to find the right combination and keep the series alive. As for the current world champions, they would want to seal it and have room for experimentation in the last game.
England: Heather Knight (c), Natalie Sciver, Katherine Brunt, Tammy Beaumont, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Natasha Farrant, Sarah Glenn, Amy Jones, Mady Villiers, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Danielle Wyatt
New Zealand: Sophie Devine (c), Natalie Dodd, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Fran Jonas, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Frances Mackay, Katey Martin (wk), Hannah Rowe, Amy Satterthwaite, Gaby Sullivan