History beckons Meg Lanning & co.; New Zealand aim to finish on a high

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20 consecutive wins! Can they equal Ricky Ponting’s 2003 side’s record 21-match winning streak? The question may not be doing the rounds within the Australia dressing room, but it’s been one of the talking points of the series so far. With the ODI series already sealed 2-0, the third and final game against New Zealand is an absolute dead rubber, but the Meg Lanning-led side will leave no stone unturned to etch their name in history books.

Lanning has already shown why she is called the G.O.A.T (Greatest of all time) being unbeaten in the series with the scores of 62 not out and 101 not out in the opening two games. She will no doubt be keen to play another key knock for Australia before heading into the Sydney bubble for the Women’s Big Bash League.

Speaking to the media a couple of days ago, opener Rachael Haynes had underlined experience and the quality of the players around her for the consistency she has shown in recent times. On Monday (October 5), the left-hander continued her rich vein of form hitting a brilliant 82 off 89 balls in Australia’s four-wicket win over New Zealand. She shared a 117-run stand with skipper Lanning for the second wicket – their fifth century stand in ODIs.

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While Australia have  clearly been the more dominant side – with both bat and ball – the only slight worry for Lanning would be the form of Alyssa Healy at the top of the order and Beth Mooney in the middle. Healy, who was the star for Australia in the T20 World Cup final earlier this year, has failed to capitalise on the starts with scores of 21 and 26 while Mooney’s total in two games is 22.

Like the first game, the spinners came to the fore for Australia with Jess Jonassen picking up 4 for 36 in the second ODI. She also took two wickets in the series opener. Sophie Molineux has figures of 2 for 28 and 2 for 49 so far in the series, while Georgia Wareham was economical in the last game despite not getting a wicket.

After bagging four wicket in the opening game of the summer, seamer Megan Schutt has not been at her best. While she was extremely economical during her opening spell in game two, she will hoping to return to her wicket-taking ways on Wednesday. Nicola Carey too has been useful with the ball picking up two wickets in as many matches and as it seems on paper, Lanning wouldn’t like to break her winning combination.

ALSO READ: Focus is on winning every match and not on records, says Australia skipper Lanning

On the other hand, Devine once again proved why batting up the order suits her, scoring 79 in the last game. Amy Satterthwaite, also got a half-century under her belt while Natalie Dodd’s 34 made sure the New Zealand top three set a platform from which the others could launch. The middle-order looked patchy in both the games and needs cash in on the starts they are getting.

Meanwhile, New Zealand bowling coach Jacob Oram is hopeful that Lea Tahuhu will be available for the final game after the pacer pulled up with a back and side strain issue during the second match. Despite the loss, the former allrounder is banking on the promise shown by the team so far to win the final game and finish on a high.

“[We’re] disappointed about losing the last game, but I think there are some positives where we put on a fight, we posted a really good score which was probably par on a good wicket and fast outfield. But we showed some partnerships and some clean hitting towards the end of the innings,” Oram said.

“And with the ball, there were some glimpses with the likes of Hannah Rowe come back to the bowling crease but also Sophie, Rosemary and Amelia‘s spells were very pleasing as well.

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Oram admitted that Australia’s batting depth and their variety in the spin department worked in their favour. “They have a long batting order. They have a quality and in-depth bowling stack especially with the spinners, so need to fight in there in your battle for a long time. So the partnerships with both bat and ball are important,” he added.

Despite being a dead rubber, Oram feels the final game is an opportunity for the players to shine and ultimately build towards the 2022 World Cup. “Well it is a dead rubber I suppose for the Rose Bowl. But it’s still a game and ultimately we are building towards the postponed 50-over World Cup. Now with these 50-over games, that’s still there in the forefront of their minds.

“It’s still opportunities for the players to do well, to put their names forward. As I say it’s still 14-16 months to go for the World Cup (2022) and the ultimate goal for the side,” he concluded.

Squads:

Australia: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, 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 Jensen, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Hannah Rowe, Amy Satterthwaite, Lea Tahuhu, Jess Watkin