In March 2020, Australia won the ICC T20 World Cup for the 5th time, in front of 86 thousand home crowd, which broke the record of the highest number of spectators in a women global sporting event. COVID-19 hit hard in the following days which, forced the sporting events around the globe either to cancel or to postpone. As cricket has started to cope up with the new normal, including Bio-Bubble, it returned to Australia after a gap of 6 months.
Aussies continue their domination over New Zealand and won the T20I series by 2-1. Australia won the first two games by 17 runs and 8 wickets respectively, but New Zealand picked up a consolation win by 5 wickets in the third match. Though the scoreline indicates the Australian domination, it was a series that was evenly contested and slightest margin of errors costed the game, for both the teams.
Once we look at the Australian batting performances, the performances of both the openers Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healy did not match that of their brilliance in the earlier 2020s. Apart from the 2nd match, when they added 51 runs in 27 balls, their contribution was 5 and 20. The pitch got slower as the series progressed and assisted the slower bowlers. Australian middle order, including Meg Lanning and Racheal Haynes, played their part well.
In the commentary box, Elyse Villani pointed out that Rachael Haynes had always saved Australia from a difficult position. When she comes out to bat, her teammates feel relieved, Villani remarked. Lanning and Haynes added unbeaten 65 to win the match by 8 wickets. In all the three matches, the Australian lower order has been phenomenal, and Ash Gardner played a prominent role in that the final assault. Ash Gardner scored 90 in two-innings with a strike rate of 140.
In the first match, her 61 gave Australia enough total to defend. She came out of the bat when Australia was staggering at 46/3 inside nine overs in the first match and took Australia to a respectable total. The match, in which Australia turned out to be victorious by 17 runs, added 47 runs in the last five overs. That late blasts turned out to be crucial in the context of the match. In the third match of the series, she came out to bat after the fall of Haynes at 46 and ended up becoming the top scorer of the innings, though in a losing cause. She became the Player of the Tournament.
While bowling is concerned, the Australian spin attack has choked the run of the kiwi batters and forced them to play the wrong stroke. Apart from their seasoned campaigner Jess Jonassen, all-rounder like Ash Gardner and Sophie Molineux proved their skipper’s call fruitful. Along with leg Spinner Georgia Wareham, Australian bowlers have picked up nine wickets in three matches. The spinners, who have bowled 36 out of the 58.5 overs, they conceded runs at a rate of 5.52 runs per over.
This is way less than the overall figure of 6.35 runs per over. While the New Zealand batters have scored 177 runs in the middle overs (7-15) in three matches, the Australian bowlers have conceded only 14 boundaries and a lone six in those overs. White Ferns have scored only 35% of the runs through boundaries in the middle overs which, indicates the dominance of the Aussie bowling line up.
Out of the 162 balls that Kiwi batters faced in the middle overs, they failed to score runs in 42 balls, excluding the wickets. That is almost one-fourth of the deliveries. Apart from that, Australian death bowling which, was lead by Megan Schutt too helped them to check the runs. Schutt had mixed her pace, bowled cross seemed deliveries to make the life difficult for the batters.
New Zealand has required 43 runs in the last 4 overs, in the first match. They started well and claimed 11 runs from the over of Jess Jonassen. But out of the remaining three overs, Schutt bowled 2, picked up 4 wickets, that includes the priced scalp like Katey Martin and Suzie Bates. In this series, Australia showed why they are the invincible side. They missed the service of Perry.
Their dashing opener didn’t click, and two bowling speer heads, Schutt and Jonassen got 6 wickets in total. Despite the facts, players like Ash Gardner, Delissa Kimnnce, and Sophie Molnuex rose into the occasion. A strong bench with a like to like substitution for almost every position makes the Australian team the strongest team to beat.
New Zealand who, picked up a solitary victory in the last match of the series, too has positives from the series. Amy Satterthwaite came to the side and took control of their middle order. Baring from the first match, where she looked a bit clumsy. Amy ran between the wicket well and has dealt the Aussie spinners with ease. She came down the track when the ball was tossed up and went back in the crease to pierce the square.
As Sattherthwite starts to find her touch, it will be a blessing for the Kiwi side as her batting suited the longer formats of the game. She crafty left-hand batter also brings variety to the side with her off-spin bowling. Devine has been in great touch prior to the WC ’20. But her run seems to dry up from then.
Maddy Green, who was promoted, up the order, has failed to provide the desired support. Though their middle-order looked compact, the lack of hitters, other than Katey Martin, didn’t help their cause. The lack of firepower down the order lead the situation where Kiwis failed to take advantage of the dying overs. Those last overs turned out to be the decisive factors in the low-scoring encounters.
Amelia Kerr, though with her all-round performance won the final match, she needs to become more consistent with the bat. Kiwis failed to use batters like Lauren Down by giving her limited opportunity. Rosemary Mair and Lea Tahuhu bowled well in the initial overs and, Jess Kerr, in the 3rd match of the series, delivered well in her three overs which, includes a maiden over.
The lack of spin bowlers for the Kiwis also turns out to be an important factor as the series progressed. Amelia Kerr was good with the ball, but she didn’t get the support from the other end. Devine turned towards Maddy Green but, Green was no match compared to the specialist spinners like Kasperek. May be New Zealand missed a trick by not opting for another leg spinner, Deanna Doughty in place of a seamer.
Both the side will now face each other for the Rose Bowl Trophy, in a three-match ODI series, starting from Saturday. New Zealand, haven’t won it for the last two decades and will look to carry on the momentum they have gained form the victory of the last-20 victory. Australia, on the other hand, is in no mood to see the trophy sailing across the Tasmanian Sea.