Upbeat New Zealand look to better their ODI record against dominant Australia

New Zealand players huddle before a game. © Getty Images

The previous ODI that happened was when New Zealand played South Africa at home earlier this January. The series between Australia and South Africa that was supposed to happen in March was cancelled due to the pandemic outbreak. On Saturday (October 3), Australia and New Zealand would be facing each other in the first match of the Rose Bowl Trophy at the Allan Border Field, Brisbane.

The hosts might want to continue from where they left off against Sri Lanka in October 2019 at the same venue. Though they are coming back after a long break in this format, Australia have been almost invincible over the years. Their win-loss ratio is as high as 5.214 in the last ten years.

Since January 2018, they have not lost a single match, and in fact, they are on an 18-match winning streak which they would not want to break. The big blow for Australia would be missing the services of all-rounder Ellyse Perry, who was ruled out due to hamstring injury.

Perry had a crucial role to play in Australia’s unbeaten record in the last couple of years. For any cricketer who has scored 500 plus runs and taken ten or more wickets during this period, no one averages better both with the bat and the ball. She has scored 609 runs at 60.90 and scalped 26 wickets at 18.80 in 18 matches.

Her absence would be a huge void to fill, and the onus would be their skipper Meg Lanning, opener Alyssa Healy and Rachael Haynes to carry the team forward. Ashleigh Gardner, who won the player of the series award in the recently concluded T20Is, is very crucial for Australia’s success in the series. Her all-round contribution would prove critical for them in the absence of Perry.

In the bowling department, a lot would depend on how Jess Jonassen and Megan Schutt do as they have been the go-to bowlers for Lanning along with Perry. This series a great opportunity for the likes of Georgia Wareham and Delissa Kimmince to step up and show what they are capable of.

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However, Australia would not worry too much because of their head-to-head record against New Zealand. In the last ten years, the two teams have played against each other 25 times off which the visitors have won only three. While six matches stand abandoned or cancelled, Australia has won the remaining 16 matches.

This record might have an impact on the way the Kiwis approach this series. In their last ten matches against Australia, New Zealand have lost six while trying to defend. Though the contests might have been closer than what the scorecards suggest, New Zealand would want to remove the big weight off their back as soon as possible.

Coming after a three-nil whitewash at home against South Africa, New Zealand would want to start the series on a winning note. For them, a lot would be riding on the form of Suzie Bates and captain Sophie Devine. Both of them have been the leading run-scorers for New Zealand in the last couple of years.

The big positive for them would be the return of Amy Satterthwaite, who was at the top of the ODI rankings even during her pregnancy break. Particularly, since the start of 2018, she has been prolific with the bat, scoring 603 runs in 15 matches. Their vice-captain has a big part to play in the middle-order for New Zealand.

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As far as the bowling is concerned, a lot will depend on Amelia Kerr and Lea Tahuhu’s performance in the absence of Leigh Kasperek, who could not travel from Scotland due to COVID restrictions. They have been the top three wicket-takers for New Zealand over the last three years. Maddy Green, Rosemary Mair might have to chip in, along with skipper Devine, to lend some support with the ball for them to do well in the series.

Despite their poor record against Australia, one thing that is clear from the matches from the recent past is that the contests between two teams have been pretty close. Australia, known for coming hard when pushed back, have managed to get out of bad situations time and again to keep their winning streak intact.

In the upcoming series, the focus, however, would be on whether New Zealand could shrug off the past, come out fresh and play some good cricket. Taking the positives from their victory in the last T20I, if they manage to get themselves over the line in the first ODI, the fans are in for a yet another exciting contest.

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, Ellyse Perry, 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