England aim third successive T20I whitewash while New Zealand look to salvage pride

New Zealand captain Sophie Devine (c) and England captain Heather Knight (r). © White Ferns

When New Zealand ended the ODI series against England on a high, few would have expected them to crumble yet again in the T20Is. A suspect batting order combined with a misfiring Sophie Devine have left the hosts staring at a T20I series whitewash at home – it would be the first time if it so happens. In 2011-12, the Kiwis had failed to win a single T20I in a five-match series against England at home, but one game was abandoned due to rain, leaving the score-line 4-0 in the tourists’ favour.

For starters, New Zealand seem to have got their batting order wrong. Hayley Jensen had been sent to open in the ODIs, a move that paid off in the first ODI. But ever since, it has been a struggle for the allrounder. She’s failed to get going in the shortest format, thereby taking away any momentum that the hosts would have liked at the top.

Maddy Green, on the other hand, has also been underutilized, coming in at seven in the first two T20Is so far. She had batted at four in the T20 World Cup last year with middling returns. The New Zealand middle-order seems to be packed with all of Amy Satterthwaite, Amelia Kerr, Katey Martin and Brooke Halliday holding to their spots.

An option that the hosts could look for in the final match, in a bid to avoid the clean sweep, is to open with Halliday and Devine. The southpaw had largely opened the batting for Northern Spirit in the Super Smash and even in the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Tournament. In the 50-over competition, she averaged over 50 in the six rounds she played.

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One of the positives to emerge for the hosts from this series is the form of Satterthwaite and her partnership with Kerr. Devine acknowledged the fact that they were in the hunt while the duo was in the middle on Friday (March 5). “I thought the partnership between Amy and Amelia started to turn the tide our way,” she said after the match. “It’s good signs for us to see Satterthwaite get plenty of runs.”

If the trend of New Zealand’s batting getting better with every passing game is to continue, we could be in store for a better game on the final match of the series.

Over to England now. They have had two under-par, or at best par in the second T20I, scores to chase in the T20Is so far. Tammy Beaumont, who tormented the New Zealand bowlers in the ODI, continued to do so in the second game as well, with a responsible 63 off 53 balls. Heather Knight and Natalie Sciver, too, have shown their silken touch. However, much like the ODIs, England’s lower-middle order remains a bit untested and if the hosts could try and exploit that area, it could be game on.

With the series sealed, England could try out how Georgia Elwiss, the only player who is yet to play in the series, shapes out. She last played a T20I in the Ashes series in 2019 and was part of the side that played the T20 World Cup warm-ups last year but didn’t bat or bowl. Danielle Wyatt’s form might be a concern for the tourists but it won’t be something they’d have sleepless nights over.

In what would come as a refreshing news for both sides, crowds would be allowed for the final T20I, which is a double-header along with the men’s New Zealand versus Australia clash. The evening game would, perhaps, force the skippers to rethink their strategies a bit.

England are here on the back of two successive whitewashes in the format – against West Indies at home last year and against Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur in late 2019. Will they be able to make a hat-trick of clean sweeps in a format as fickle as the T20Is? Or will New Zealand manage to eke out a win, like they did in the ODIs?

 

Squads:

New Zealand: Sophie Devine (c), Amy Satterthwaite, Kate Ebrahim, Maddy Green, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin (wk), Thamsyn Newton, Hannah Rowe, Brooke Halliday, Gabby Sullivan

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

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