New Zealand's death by dot balls, Meg Lanning

S Sudarshanan
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© Cricket Australia

Meg Lanning faced 11 dots in her first 12 balls, including missing out on a Free Hit. But on the 13th, the majestic shot she hit would have rung alarm bells in the New Zealand dugout. Sophie Devine had speared one full on middle and leg; Lanning just used her wrists – a la Steve Smith – to whip it over long leg for half a dozen.

With Rachael Haynes for company, the Aussie captain added 65 runs for the second wicket that all but sealed the win for Australia. The ease with which she was milking runs – be it singles, doubles or boundaries – made you wonder if batting in international cricket is supposed to be that easy.

“Meg put on a bit of a clinic today and then showed the rest of the order how to get it done,” Georgia Wareham, who picked up 2 for 23 and the player of the match award, said of her captain. It was an example that others would look to emulate, according to her.

Before the first ODI of the Rose Bowl Trophy, Lanning’s average against her trans-Tasman opponents was 59.93 in 18 games. That number shot up to 63.81 after her exploits on Saturday (October 3) and she also completed 1000 runs against New Zealand in the format – the first time she’s done so against any team.

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Lanning eventually finished unbeaten on 62 off 70 balls – aptly finishing the match with a six slinking down the track – and only failed to score off a further 22 balls.

Dot balls were the focal point of Devine’s assessment of where New Zealand went wrong; Wareham alone bowled 45 dots in her ten-over spell. Her spin compatriots in Sophie Molineux and Jess Jonassen delivered 43 and 37 such deliveries. As a result, once the openers and the top-three fell, the Kiwis seldom managed a run-rate in excess of four and a half runs an over.

“We let Australia bowl at us. Credit goes to Georgia Wareham and the spin contingent,” Devine said.

“They bowled well. But we certainly let them bowl at us and too many dot balls. In 50-overs cricket we need to have intent. But we let dot balls build pressure.”

That batting has been New Zealand’s Achilles heel on this tour is an open secret, but tactics haven’t helped them a great deal either.

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At one point, Holly Ferling, as a part of her analysis told the broadcasters, “New Zealand haven’t been tactically too sound. They have always had four players manning the boundary and haven’t attacked enough.”

Ferling was bang on with her assessment. There were singles on offer not only for Haynes and Lanning, but even for the likes of Beth Mooney and Molineux when they were new to the crease, making it far too easy for Australia to cruise to the target. That Lea Tahuhu and Amelia Kerr couldn't plug the flow of runs didn't help matters. The introduction of Maddy Green and Rosemary Mair's extended spell slowed down proceedings a touch, but by then, Lanning had her sights on yet another half-century and it seemed a bit too late.

“She’s a quality player and we can’t give her any freebies,” Devine said about Lanning.

“She put the bad balls away on a quick wicket. We’ve seen our plans work to her, we’ve seen in the T20 series, when we execute our plans, we can dismiss her.”

Lanning's superior record aside, the tourists’ problems were further complicated due to a nasty fall that saw Suzie Bates injure her shoulder. Although the Kiwi captain was positive about her ‘Smash Sister’ being available for the second ODI, the short turnaround could leave Devine with a lot to think about.