Strong England bowling, abject New Zealand batting see tourists take 1-0 lead

S Sudarshanan
03 Mar 2021
Strong England bowling, abject New Zealand batting see tourists take 1-0 lead

England players celebrate a wicket. © Getty Images

What’s wrong with New Zealand’s batting? Where are hosts' attacking batting instincts? What’s ailing New Zealand?

These were some questions that were valid after the first two ODIs of their series against England. They had been pushed to the back after the clinical chase in the final ODI. However, yet another abject surrender from New Zealand batters in the first T20I on Wednesday (March 3) has pushed all these questions to the fore.

It meant that England coasted to an easy seven-wicket win and took a 1-0 lead in the three T20I series at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

The hosts were inserted to bat. Sophie Devine, who had batted at four in the 50-over games, came out to open. With her was, strangely again, Hayley Jensen, even though Maddy Green was in the XI. Devine’s powerful flicks were conspicuous by their absence in the ODIs. She looked a pale reflection of the batter who had smashed the fastest T20 hundred in the Super Smash.

That Devine flick did come into display. But off Natalie Sciver’s first ball in the match, it was hit straight to the deep square leg fielder; the Kiwi captain was out for just two. Perhaps a sign of things to come for the hosts?

In her next over, Sciver then got Amy Satterthwaite to miscue a pull to Freya Davies at mid-on for just two. While Jensen’s timing seemed to be amiss, Amelia Kerr, walking in at four, got going with successive fours off Sciver’s third over – first a well-executed scoop over short fine leg and then a strong pull shot beating deep square leg to her right.

At two for 33 after the powerplay, the Kiwis were hopeful.

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But the introduction of spin by England changed it all. A series of dots saw Jensen lose her cool and hole out to long-on for 13, before Amelia trying to work one off Ecclestone to the on side and instead popping an easy catch back. Brooke Halliday, making her T20I debut after an impressive first couple of ODIs, couldn’t then resist stepping out to drive Ecclestone and was stumped for just one.

New Zealand had lost three for 11 in a phase of 21 balls.

Katey Martin, who became the oldest to play a T20I for New Zealand, held fort at one end. She continued to get herself in, rotating the strike and finding the odd boundary, despite losing partners at the other end. She eventually fell on 36 off 32 balls, with Amy Jones executing a brilliant stumping standing up to the stumps against Katherine Brunt, to end Martin’s resistance.

Despite a longish batting order, the hosts had folded up for 96.

England’s chase was a tad easier given they had a target of sub-100. Tammy Beaumont, surprisingly, took time to get going. Danielle Wyatt, who has found runs hard to come by for some time now, got the rub of green as she was caught off a free hit. She then got going by driving an Amelia full toss through covers for four. A couple of fours each in the next two overs – both by Beaumont and Wyatt – saw England finish the powerplay on 42 for no loss.

After executing a perfect sweep through square leg off Leigh Kasperek, Wyatt fell in a bid to go inside out over cover, getting caught by Devine on the circle. In her next over, the Kiwi spinner got Beaumont to hole out to deep mid-wicket for 25. A couple of balls later, Jess Kerr nailed a direct hit to catch Heather Knight short of her crease.

Sciver (26 not out) and Amy Jones (12 not out) then added 32 together and saw England home to a seven-wicket win.

Brief Scores: New Zealand 96 all out (Katey Martin 36; Sarah Glenn 2/11) lost to England 99/3 in 16 overs (Danielle Wyatt 33; Leigh Kasperek 2/24) by seven wickets.

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