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.
Australia are gearing up for the 6th edition of Women Big Bash League starting from October 25. But prior to that, they will meet their arch-rival in a cross Tasmanian show from tomorrow. New Zealand who failed to reach the knockout stages of the last two T-20 World Cup will face Australia in a three-match T-20 Series, followed by 3 match ODI series.
Though Australia had won all of the last 5 encounters, Australia will miss Ellyse Perry in their First T20I, who is recovering from injury. On the contrary, New Zealand batting will be boosted by the arrival of Amy Satterthwaite. Satterthwaite, who missed the world cup due to her maternity leave, will bring the variety in the batting order and can play the role of an anchor to solidify the middle order. Once again, a lot will depend on the opening partnership of Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healy.
While Beth Mooney in a recent interview stated that she has become more self-confident about her batting in the last couple of years and will be again the go-to person for skipper Lanning. While on the one hand, Healy has the capabilities to tear apart any attack, the comparative ‘calm’ batting only increases the frustration of the opponent captain. In the practice match, she scored 80 after Australia lost two early wickets in the 40 overs encounter.
Meg Lanning, Rachael Haynes (scored 54 in the practice match) , Erin Burns have the reputation to control the middle orders at their will. Australia has traditionally produced a bunch of all-rounders who can turn the tide on any given day. Sophie Molineux who did not get many chances with the bat for the side in the shortest format of the game scored 48 and took 5 wickets to guide Australia to an 11 run victory in the practice match.
She along with Ash Gardner will be playing a major role in the spin bowling department, spearheaded by Jess Jonassen and Georgia Wareham. As Australia will miss the service of Perry in the first match Dessila Kimince, Anabella Sutherland, or Nicola Carey can put in the big shoes of her. Sutherland has proven her in all three departments.
The inclusion of Maitlan Brown will enrich the bench while Tahlia McGrath will be making her comeback in the national side. Belinda Vakarewa will join Megan Schutt as far as seam bowling is concerned. Vakarewa has impressed the experts with her raw pace. She is regarded as one of the prospects of Australia along with Tayla Vlaemnic as far as pace bowling is concerned.
Apart from the final eleven, the strong bench, which consists of at least one back up for each role makes has made Australia the invincible side. Australia will look forward to continuing their momentum and retain their position of world giants.
In the case of New Zealand, apart from the Satterthwaite, Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine will be again their go-to player in the batting. And one of them needs to play an instrumental role to turn the tide in favour of the white ferns. If we look at the last 10 innings, Sophie Devine has scored 520 runs with an average of 65 and a strike rate of more than 120. In early 2020, against South Africa, she scored more than 50 in all the four matches including, a hundred.
New Zealand can opt to bat her down the order as Sutterthwaite returns to the national side. Or they can give her a free hand to take advantage of the batting power-play while leaving Bates and Satterthwaite to control the middle order. One can get the hint of her touch from the fact that her 89 off 73 took New Zealand to the verge of victory. The inclusion of Satterthwaite provides the management to send her to open along with the hard-hitting opener Lauren Down.
This right-hander relies on timing and technique to score her runs but does possess explosive power as was evident by her 90 off 86 balls in the 2019-20 Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Final for Auckland Hearts. In the absence of Rachel Priest, Natalie Dodd and Katie Martins will take charge to keep the wicket and, at the same time, they can play handy roles in the middle order.
Dodd has scored more than 250 runs in domestic last season for Central District with an average of more than 30. Along with Lea Tahuhu, Rosemary Mair, Hannah Rowe, Holly Huddlestone will look forward to taking on the long Aussie Batting line up. Mair did well in the practice match with the initial wickets and will look forward to carrying on her form from the world cup.
In absence of Lea Kasperek, their front line spinner, Amelia Kerr needs to take up the responsibilities to choke the run in middle overs. Though New Zealand is dependent on the big names, other players need to step up their game and play the supporting role to turn the tide in their favour.
Australia: Meg Lanning (C), Rachael Haynes, Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham, Belinda Vakarewa
New Zealand: Sophie Devine (C), Suzie Bates, Natalie Dodd, Deanna Doughty, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jenson, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Hannah Rowe, Amy Satterthwaite, Lea Tahuhu, Jess Watkin
September 26: First T20I
September 27: Second T20I
September 30: Third T20I
October 3: First ODI
October 5: Second ODI
October 7: Third ODI