It took barely more than 24 hours for Australia to reassert their superiority after a six-month lay-off, but though the final T20I in Brisbane on Wednesday is a dead game in terms of the series, it shapes as a vital match in this short tour if New Zealand are to avoid things running away from them ahead of the one-day contests.
Though the format will change next weekend, New Zealand’s record in the Rose Bowl ODIs doesn’t bode well for their chances of halting Australia’s dominance: it is 20 years since they have held the trophy, with one drawn series their best result in the last 17 attempts.
Australia, who secured their tenth T20I prize in a row with this series victory, will be eyeing the world-record of 21 consecutive ODI wins – the milestone held by the men’s team in 2003 – and New Zealand desperately need a response in the final T20I after the one-sided contest yesterday.
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Alyssa Healy believes Australia have a mental edge in knowing they can win from any position – a skill that came to the fore in tight circumstances at the T20 World Cup and in the opening game of this series when they were 5 for 82.
“I’d like to think so. We really pride ourselves with cricket in this country that we know how to win and when our backs are against the wall we find ways to win games,” she said. “We showed that [on Saturday], we lost a few wickets and looked under the pump. I guess it’s some sort of psychological edge but saying that think our skills are fantastic at the minute.”
Unsurprisingly, New Zealand captain Sophie Devine was not buying the notion of her team being overwhelmed by their Trans-Tasman rivals and believed they were the side who should be playing with more freedom.
“If you are intimidated by teams you may as well not walk on the park,” she said. “For us we’ve got nothing to lose, they are the ones with all the pressure on their shoulders, they are world champions, and have had a great run against use lately but we know we can go out there with a sense of freedom because we aren’t the world champs. Don’t think there’s any psychological intimidation out there for us.”
The balance of New Zealand’s side has come under scrutiny, especially when they named an unchanged XI for the second match and did not bolster their spin department. They have been hampered by the absence of offspinners Leigh Kasperek, who couldn’t make the tour due to travel restrictions, and Anna Peterson, who was unavailable for personal reasons.
A lot has rested on the shoulders of legspinner Amelia Kerr – whose record against Australia is significantly inferior than her overall numbers – while part-time offspinner Maddy Green was pressed into service in the second match. They have offspinner Jess Watkin and uncapped legspinner Deanna Doughty in the squad and will need to consider bringing at least one into the side with the same pitch expected to be used again.
“It can be a blessing and a curse having games that close together, you don’t have much time to dwell on things and likewise you might not have the time to correct a few wrongs,” Devine said. “We were poor again, completely outplayed by a quality Australia side in all facets of the game. We’ll take the next or two to really recoup and look at our plans again and what we need to do to beat a really strong side.
“It’s what makes Australia such a great side, they don’t let you get away with too much. We were really confident going into this match, we were targeting 150 on that pitch which we knew if we got close to that we could put some pressure on them but getting late 120s won’t be enough.”
Meg Lanning said before the series that Australia would not be handing caps out for the sake of it but there may be a temptation to give another player or two an outing before the ODI series. Tahlia McGrath, Annabel Sutherland, Belinda Vakarewa, Erin Burns, Molly Strano and the uncapped Maitlan Brown are the other available members of the squad.
Ellyse Perry is continuing her recovery from the hamstring injury suffered at the T20 World Cup and ahead of the opening match said she had suffered a minor setback in recent days meaning she may not be ready for any of these New Zealand games.
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