The Trans-Tasman rivalry has been one of the most covered and engaging rivalries in our sport till date. Though Australia have always been ahead in a few things in comparison to their neighbours, New Zealand will be fully aware that they can punch above their weight. Come Sunday (March 13), the rivalry will resume at one of the oldest avenues of the game, the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
What’s at stake?
Both Australia and New Zealand will be coming into this game with a win on their back. While the White Ferns getting their campaign back on track after the three-run loss against the West Indies in the opening match, Australia have gone about their business as everyone would have expected.
Writing a preview on Australia is a bit more difficult than some might think. For every minor set back they face, the side which has been on an incredible run since their semi-final defeat at the 2017 edition, they seem to have answers ready. Against the hosts, they have a bit of worry though. They have already been smashed to all parts of the ground since arriving in New Zealand.
In the warm-up match, Sophie Devine took the Aussie bowlers out, scoring 161 runs, making a mockery of the 322 run chase. She was well supported by Amelia Kerr, who scored 92 while Suzie Bates also got 63. However, it should be well noted that the Australians were more keen in giving all their bowling options a go rather than looking for a win.
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Despite that, what can’t be brushed under the carpet is the issue with New Zealand’s batting. Their top four looks as good as any in this tournament, but beyond that there seems to be a lack of role-awareness and inability to capitalize in the death overs. With that being said, their bowling unit will also be heavily tested given Australia's batting unit. Their power play bowling could come under scrutiny, something which wasn’t in the forefront in the last game against India, with Frances Mackay bowling to the lefties.
Australia, on the other hand, have some worries in the injury department. Ahead of the game, skipper Meg Lanning confirmed that Ashleigh Gardner and Tahlia McGrath have both returned to training, but a call on their selection will be taken ahead of the game. There will be a bit of change in the combination if they both are brought back in, but Australia’s template of having n-number of bowling options will once again be on display. The question is, can New Zealand put them on the backfoot or not?
What they said:
“The way that Sophie and Amelia batted in that warm up game was excellent, but I don’t think we can read too much into warm up games. Definitely gives us confidence but we know that we've got a really strong team that can really challenge a great Australian side and we're just looking to get out there tomorrow,”
- Maddy Green on New Zealand’s win in the warm-up match against Australia.
“I think, you can't just focus on one or two players and forget about the rest because you know, they've got a very strong team with good depth. So we've certainly been here doing our work behind the scenes and we feel like we've got some really good plans in place. And that's really important,”
- Meg Lanning on being asked if Australia had plans for Devine and Kerr.
Players to watch out for:
Suzie Bates: The right-handed opener has been a vital cog in the New Zealand batting order. However, so far, her batting is not easy to judge. Twice she has been run out while in the other game against Bangladesh, she scored a match-winning fifty. Against Australia, her experience will be quite crucial. On top of that, her numbers against the Aussies are the best among all the batters in the New Zealand line-up, with three centuries. In a game like this, the White Ferns would definitely want Bates to stand up and deliver.
Alana King: The Australian bowling attack had been quite good in the lead-up to this event. Since King’s debut, they have become more potent than they were. King adds much important variety to the attack and in the last match itself, she had a fellow leg-spinner in Amanda-Jade Wellington to work around with. But, against New Zealand, she will have her work cut out given how good players of spin they have. It will be yet another challenge King would like to ace, like she has done so far in her short international career.
Head to head: Played 132, Australia 99 - 31 New Zealand
- The last time New Zealand beat Australia in an ODI game was in Auckland in 2017. Since then, Australia have won 12 matches.
- Six of Meg Lanning’s centuries have come against New Zealand, most by anyone in this trans-tasman rivalry. She has an average of 62.68 with 1191 runs in 23 innings.
New Zealand: Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Amelia Kerr, Amy Satterthwaite, Maddy Green, Frances Mackay, Katey Martin (wk), Hayley Jensen, Lea Tahuhu, Jess Kerr, Hannah Rowe
Australia: Alyssa Healy (wk), Rachael Haynes, Meg Lanning (c), Ellyse Perry, Beth Mooney, Annabel Sutherland, Tahlia McGrath, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Amanda-Jade Wellington/Ashleigh Gardner, Megan Schutt