New Zealand 5 for 125 (Satterthwaite 30, Wareham 2-19) beat Australia 7 for 123 (Gardner 29, Kerr 2-18, Tahuhu 2-28) by five wickets
Amelia Kerr turned in a masterly display with the ball before delivering precisely the late innings hitting required to lift New Zealand to victory. This helped end a run of 13 Australian wins in all format meetings between the two countries.
New Zealand kept the Australians more or less in check throughout their innings, but had a couple of nervous moments in the pursuit of a mediocre total on a worn pitch at Allan Border Field. At 3 for 44 and then 5 for 98, Meg Lanning’s team might have expected to close things out for a 3-0 series ledger.
However Kerr was confidence personified as she identified her areas and picked her gaps for the pivotal boundaries to collect the 25 runs they needed from the final three overs. As much as spin was dominant throughout the match, Lanning left her own leg spinner, Georgia Wareham, with one over still available despite figures of 2 for 19.
Gaining a foothold
A streak of 13 matches across all formats without a win over Australia was undoubtedly sticking in the craws of the visitors. Having won the toss on an overcast day, there was a chance to set the agenda and maintain it better than they had managed against a rampant Ash Gardner in game one. The recalled Jess Kerr started off with a maiden notable for sharp inswing that Alyssa Healy could make little of, and while Beth Mooney was more fluent, both were gone within seven overs.
Things should have been even better for New Zealand, but their fielding has been sloppy relative to Australia and it came home to roost the ball after Devine had found Mooney’s outside edge with a perfectly pitched delivery that moved way just enough off the seam. Flinging the next one wider and giving Lanning the chance to free her arms, Devine raised her arms in triumph as the skewed drive flew off the edge straight at Satterthwaite, only for the chance to go down. Lanning went on to 21 on a low scoring day.
Kerr mixes things up
On familiar ground due to her WBBL deal with Brisbane Heat, Amelia Kerr was doubly at home on a pitch that, having first been used on Saturday, was now five days old. This gave her the opportunity for sharp spin in both directions, added to her usual nifty changes of pace, while twirling down her wrist spin with commendable accuracy. In her first over, Kerr was able to cramp Rachael Haynes on the pull shot for a catch to midwicket. In her second, Lanning was beaten in flight by a full toss, its late dip compelling a miscue to mid-on.
Kerr took her cap after a spell of 2 for 6, and would concede only another 12 in her final two overs as the Australians tried to lift the rate amid the loss of regular wickets. In conceding only one boundary in four overs, Kerr was a constant threat, and aided the likes of Maddy Green and Lea Tahuhu to turn in their own excellent spells. A target of 124 was well within the reach of Devine’s batting lineup.
Wareham, Haynes apply the squeeze on New Zealand
Australia’s blueprint is a consistent one, relying on their tight bowling and superbly reliable fielding to squeeze opponents into error, rather than chasing wickets a little more ardently or riskily. In the early overs, they were able to do this by cornering Green, whose struggles to rotate strike counterbalanced the free scoring of Devine at the other end. Eventually, Green skied one off Delissa Kimmince for the opening breakthrough, and then Georgia Wareham maintained her excellent recent record against New Zealand by tempting Devine into a stumping.
Two balls later, Suzie Bates’ enormous experience was also lost from the chase, as Haynes fumbled ever so slightly then unleashed the sort of inner ring throw at the non-striker’s stumps that would have made the likes of Allan Border, Ricky Ponting or Andrew Symonds proud. Bates stretched, but was a centimetre or two short as the bails were sent flying, and New Zealand were suddenly in the sort of position from which they had subsided meekly in both of the first two games.
Kerr’s late show ends Australia’s streak
There was plenty of composure from Amy Satterthwaite and Katy Martin as they reset after the losses of Devine and Bates. The run rate required was still more than manageable, the pitch slow but not untrustworthy. The biggest obstacle appeared to be New Zealand’s own self-belief relative to Australia’s, and after Martin swung Sophie Molineux high over midwicket for six, the tourists needed just 32 from the final six overs.
Australia, though, found a way to tighten things yet again. Jess Jonassen conceded just two from her next over, then Wareham spun one into Martin’s middle stump as she tried to work the ball behind point. Jonassen’s final over was another extremely disciplined offering, finding a way past Satterthwaite while giving up just a single. Not for the first time, it was left up to Amelia Kerr, who responded with a minor masterpiece. A precision cover drive off Molineux set up the final over, whereupon she clouted Megan Schutt over mid off and square leg.
The streak is over.