21 – it is a number that is so dear to the Aussies. Meg Lanning’s Australia have won those many successive ODIs, alright. But it is also the most won by any team in international cricket – across genders. Ricky Ponting’s Australia had won the same number of successive matches in 2003, which is a record. Lanning’s team has a chance to go one better and etch their name in the record books, come Sunday (April 4) at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui. It will be the same opposition against whom they’d last won to draw level with Ponting’s men.
New Zealand are well aware of the task in front of them, even though they had gone down 0-3 against their trans-Tasman rivals in October 2020. "If we were able to trip them up it would be a big moment for us regardless of the record,” Amy Satterthwaite had said after the T20I series. The hosts would be buoyed with the return of lead pacer Lea Tahuhu, who had injured her hamstring in the series against England. Hannah Rowe, whose cameo in the second T20I helped New Zealand beat Australia, is part of the squad as well and so is off-spinner Leigh Kasperek, who's back for the ODIs.
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What will be interesting to see in the three ODIs is the impact of the absence of Sophie Devine, who's gone home due to fatigue. The New Zealand captain has been on the road for over five months starting from the tour Down Under last year and missed the last two T20Is. In her absence Satterthwaite will continue to lead the hosts, Northern Spirit batter Kate Anderson has been called in as a replacement for Devine in the squad.
While Natalie Dodd had opened in the ODIs against England, her absence and Lauren Down’s presence should mean that Down should walk out to open with Hayley Jensen, who is likely to be persisted at the top of the order. An area of concern for the hosts could be the lack of spin-bowling options in the first ODI, given that Fran Jonas, who made her debut against England, isn’t part of the setup and Frances Mackay has been ruled out due to a partial tear in her right calf. That would put more burden on Amelia Kerr, who is searching for form with the ball.
For Australia, a change in format would see a change in the opening combination with Rachael Haynes partnering Alyssa Healy at the top, with Beth Mooney set to reprise her middle-order role. Whether the tourists choose to go ahead with both quicks in Tayla Vlaeminck and Darcie Brown or play just one remains to be seen. And then there is Tahlia McGrath, who could give them more cushion in batting or Belinda Vakarewa, the more experienced pacer. The ODIs should also see more bowling time for Ellyse Perry, who delivered just the one over in the T20Is.
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While Australia would aim to put on a winning show, they would also look to check out the possible combinations they could play in the Women’s World Cup, which would be played in New Zealand next March.
The Rose Bowl Trophy has never returned to New Zealand since 1999. For that to happen in 2021, Australia’s historic streak will have to stop. Will the hosts manage to do so or will the tourists’ juggernaut roll on?
New Zealand: Amy Satterthwaite (c), Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin(wk), Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu, Leigh Kasperek, Kate Anderson
Australia: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes, Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Molly Strano, Georgia Wareham, Belinda Vakarewa, Tayla Vlaeminck