Struggling New Zealand search for ways to stop the Australian juggernaut

Meg Lanning's fluent half-century headlined Australia's win. © Getty Images

Over the last few years, New Zealand’s over reliance on their top order has been often spoken about. The dependence on the trio of Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine and Amy Satterthwaite, and to a lesser extent, Rachel Priest was well known. Following the dropping of Sara McGlashan in 2016, opposition teams knew to attack them early – three wickets would often lead to a quick folding of the line up.

However, in recent times, the emergence of Amelia Kerr as a capable batter and the growth in confidence of Maddy Green and Katie Perkins and the reinvention of veteran Katey Martin has provided them with a few more options in the middle. While the batting still remains rather brittle, New Zealand have a little more to lean on.

In the first ODI of the Rose Bowl series at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane on Saturday (October 3), it was that group of less fancied batters who dug the visitors out of a hole after they had been reduced to 83 for 6 in the 28th over. The trio of Green, Perkins and Hayley Jensen showed great fight and character in the latter half of the innings, to boost New Zealand’s total to 180.

All three of those players – and Natalie Dodd at the top of the order – were busy at the crease, searching for scoring opportunities and trying to challenge the Australian bowlers.

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While acknowledging New Zealand’s poor approach with the bat – piling up dot balls, allowing the Australian attack to dictate terms – Devine said they could take heart from the lower order’s showing, and need to adapt better to the conditions come Monday (October 5).

“I thought we were poor with the bat today,” Devine said in the post-match presentation. “The lower order showed us what needed to be done with a strong partnership between Perkins and Green. We don’t have too much time, but hopefully we can figure out what we need to do and come back in the next game.”

 

With the ball too, New Zealand were unable to keep Australia’s formidable line-up in check – leaking runs on both sides of the pitch, leaving large gaps for the batters to milk singles and unable to execute any of their plans. Speedster Rosemary Mair was one of the positives for the side, with figures of 7-2-21-2. After getting tonked for eight runs in her first over, she came back admirably, drawing the batters forward, and pushing the ball across the left-handers, forcing them to ‘feel for it’.

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Going into ODI no. 2, New Zealand have plenty of things to work on if they want to stop the rampaging Australian juggernaut. The injuries to Suzie Bates and Lauren Down have only made matters more difficult. Allrounder Jess Watkin is a potential opening option, but the side have so far seemed reluctant to pick her. It will be interesting to see what changes New Zealand make to their line-up in search of a win.

First, they will be desperate for their senior players to find some runs, and will also hope their bowlers can control proceedings slightly better. For that, they will do well to add a bit of variety to their attack which it heavily pace-oriented at the moment. Leg-spinner Deanna Doughty who earned a maiden call-up to the squad is an option, and off-spinner Watkin too could add another string to their bow.

While New Zealand desperately search for a winning formula, Australia, on the other hand, look unbeatable. Their bowlers set the tone for the game in the opening encounter, picking up wickets at regular intervals and squeezing the life out of the batters. The spinners hardly bowled a bad ball, while the seamers too, had their moments in the game.

Debutante Annabel Sutherland bowled with great pace and energy. Despite a few off-target deliveries, she managed to pick up the big wicket of Satterthwaite, giving Australia control of the innings quite early.

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In their chase, Australia were never in trouble. Skipper Meg Lanning and her deputy Rachael Haynes continued their exceptional form, sharing another half-century partnership that laid the foundation to their seven wicket-win.

There is little doubt that Australia go into Monday’s game as clear favourites. They will be expected to win ODI no. 20, and move one step closer to equaling the world record. But if the visitors find their mojo – much like they did in the final T20I – they may catch the hosts off guard. If they want a shot at winning the Rose Bowl trophy, they will have to pull out all the stops.

Squads:

Australia: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Megan Schutt, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham, Belinda Vakarewa

New Zealand: Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Natalie Dodd, Deanna Doughty, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Hannah Rowe, Amy Satterthwaite, Lea Tahuhu, Jess Watkin