An allround performance from Natalie Sciver and some incisive new-ball bowling from Katherine Brunt helped England seal the three-match series with a seven-wicket win against New Zealand in the second ODI at the University Oval in Dunedin on Friday(February 26).
Despite the seven of their last ten ODI losses coming while batting first, New Zealand skipper Sophie Devine opted to bat again after winning the toss on a wicket that was consensually said to be batting-friendly before the start. However, the first over from Brunt indicated otherwise. Although she took her time to get the line right, Brunt moved the ball away from the right-hander consistently. And it only took five balls for her to get rid of Hayley Jensen as the seamer outdid the opener with some extra bounce off the wicket. In her next over, Natalie Dodd, too, tried to cut a similar delivery and played it on to the stumps.
Unlike the first ODI, Heather Knight started with Natalie Sciver from the other end. It seemed like she wanted the experienced seamers to make inroads before bringing in Natasha Farrant or Kate Cross, and Sciver did not disappoint. The all-rounder deceived Devine with a ball that held up a bit as the New Zealand skipper flicked straight into the hands of Farrant at mid-wicket. A couple of overs later, Sciver came wide off the crease and bowled an off-cutter that went through the gap between bat and pad of Amelia Kerr and castled the stumps.
With Amy Satterthwaite walking off after edging Cross to Amy Jones, New Zealand were down to 38 for five. In came the only positive for the hosts from the first ODI, Brooke Halliday. With the local star Katey Martin, she tried to revive the innings. The England seamers bowled tight lengths, giving no width whatsoever for the batters to free their arms and play the shots.
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The duo slowly started picking up singles and kept the scoreboard moving. Together, they added 42 runs before Martin got out to a knee-high full-toss from Sarah Glenn for 17 runs from 37 balls. Joined by Maddy Green, who came into the team for Frances Mackay, Halliday kept the innings going. Against the spinners, in particular, she was quick on her feet, moving forward and backwards, unsettling their rhythm. The southpaw hit back-to-back boundaries off Sophie Ecclestone and followed it up with another in Glenn's over.
When the pacers came on, Halliday backed away a bit and used the square-point region to rotate the strike while putting away the bad balls. Most of her runs came either down the ground or on the off-side between the cover and third-man region. Both Halliday and Green had their share of luck as Beaumont and Brunt put down tough chances. Nevertheless, it did not help when Green was caught in a mix-up and was run-out at the keeper's end for 14 from 36 balls.
Meanwhile, Halliday brought up her second consecutive half-century at the other end. However, the party did not last long as Jones took a brilliant catch while standing up to Sciver to dismiss the left-hander. The White Ferns were struggling at 139 for eight with more than ten overs left in the innings. Hannah Rowe and Jess Kerr tried to bat the full quota of overs. England not trying to run them through with pacers might have helped the cause as the duo were happy to play the spinners.
When it came down to the last few overs, they opened up and hit a few boundaries off Glenn and Brunt. Jess made 28 from 30 balls before getting out trying to hit Glenn over long-on. Eventually, they were all out for 192 in 49.5 overs. Brunt and Sciver were the picks of the bowlers for England, setting up the pace of the game by picking up early wickets. While Brunt took two for 34, Sciver finished with three for 26 from her nine overs.
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Chasing almost four runs an over, England were off to a horror start as the poor form of Danielle Wyatt continued. The opener tried to hit a good-length delivery of Jess on-the-raise and played it on to the stumps. It got worse when Knight was run-out for eight runs from nine balls. England were stuttering at 12 for two when Sciver joined Tammy Beaumont in the middle.
The duo took time to get their eye in before capitalising on the poor deliveries. The difference between the seamers of the two teams was the lengths they bowled. While the England pacers consistently stuck to the good-length areas, their counterparts were guilty of bowling either too full trying to swing the ball or too short without enough pace to make an impact. Both Beaumont and Sciver were happy to drive and cut the loose deliveries without any discomfort.
Once they put on a fifty-run stand, the duo started playing a bit more aggressively, having acclimatised to the conditions. Sciver, in particular, went after Fran Jonas and Amelia disrupting their lengths. She brought up her 14th ODI half-century in 48 balls. With Beaumont, Sciver added 103 runs before getting out to Halliday for a 61-ball 63. After shining with the bat, Halliday almost got another wicket when Jones drove a full-delivery right back at her, but she could not hold on to the catch.
For a brief period, Halliday was able to keep the batters quiet with tight lines, but defending a sub-par total did not help. With no run-rate pressure, Beaumont was happy to play the second-fiddle, leaving the aggressor role to Jones. They were keen on rotating the strike while Jones took the occasional calculated risk to hit some boundaries. Beaumont brought up her 11th ODI fifty in 93 balls and remained not out till the end with 112-ball 72. Jones finished with 46 runs from 45 balls, as England eventually chased down the target in 37.4 overs.
New Zealand:192/10 in 49.5 overs (Brooke Halliday 60, Natalie Sciver 3/26) lost to England 194/3 in 37.4 overs (Tammy Beaumont 72, Brooke Halliday 1/18) by seven wickets. POTM: Natalie Sciver