New Zealand, Australia clash in a virtual quarter-final

New Zealand celebrate a wicket. © ICC

One iconic moment in the T20 World Cups is of the final in 2010 edition where Ellyse Perry, defending five of the last ball, put her foot to stop a straight hit by Sophie Devine to deny New Zealand.

On Monday (March 2) the rivalry resumes and this time it’s with an aim to qualify for the semi-final. Only one team can go through with India already there, and New Zealand certainly will look to get the record straight and knock the hosts out.

They came into the T20 World Cup on the back of a confidence-boosting victory over South Africa. But in the three matches they have played in the tournament so far they have looked a bit scratchy. They were almost out of contention against Bangladesh, being bowled out for just 91 before their bowlers stepped up to keep a spirited Bangladesh at bay. New Zealand can’t afford any such slip-ups if they want to challenge Australia.

“We certainly want to touch on what happened, we can’t ignore it, but we’re certainly really excited to come up against an Australian side who we’ve played a lot of cricket not only against, but alongside as well,” said Devine.

For starters, apart from Devine, no one is taking more responsibility in the batting and that resulted in New Zealand not putting scores above 130. Suzie Bates and Rachel Priest have got starts, but have failed to capitalise on it. Bates has not scored a fifty since seven matches. That one big knock is due and it would be fitting if she delivers on the biggest stage.

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On the other hand, Australia, too, survived a scare from Sri Lanka but put a convincing performance against Bangladesh to have momentum by their side. The depth in batting was all to see when vice-captain Rachael Haynes at number five scored a crucial 60 to take her team over the line against Sri Lanka. Apart from her Alyssa Healy too is back among runs and that augurs well for Australia. But skipper Meg Lanning feels they are not feeling the pressure and will dominantly go about their business.

“We know we’re going to have to play extremely well and put out our best performance of the tournament so far, but I back my team to do that,” said Lanning. “We’ve done all the preparation and hard work now it’s about getting out there and enjoying ourselves.”

The Kiwis have a superior record over their trans-Tasman counterparts, winning three of the five clashes in T20 World Cups. Will the hosts level that on Monday in Melbourne?

Squads

Australia: Rachael Haynes, Megan Schutt, Alyssa Healy, Meg Lanning (c), Ellyse Perry, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Beth Mooney, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham, Erin Burns, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland.

New Zealand: Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest, Lea Tahuhu.