Australia’s victory in its 200th one-day international was dampened somewhat by an injury to Lisa Sthalekar, with the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars vice captain suffering a fractured little finger on her left hand while attempting a catch late in New Zealand’s innings.
Sthalekar wasn’t needed in the run chase as the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars reached the victory target in the 46th over for a 2-1 series lead.
After New Zealand batted first and amassed 8-187, Melissa Bulow provided stability at the top of the order for Australia, with the right hander’s 51 setting the platform before Alex Blackwell (44 not out) and Jodie Purves (36 not out) combined for an unbroken partnership of 71 to steer the home team to victory.
“We’ve spoken at team meetings about the need for one of the top four to make half a century or a big score and I was happy to be able to contribute that today,” Bulow said.
“I’ve felt pretty comfortable at the crease throughout the series but I’ve just been getting out early, so it was just a matter of me staying in there and getting a bigger score.”
The match was also a personal milestone for Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars captain Karen Rolton. The 32-year-old scored her 4,000th run in one-day international cricket today in her 111th match to become just the third player in history to reach the mark.
“It was a much better effort and I thought with the bat we were more positive today. It was great to chase down the runs with four or five overs to go and keep wickets in hand,” Rolton said.
“I’m a little disappointed we didn’t keep them to about 140, but they had a couple of good partnerships and we dropped a couple of catches.”
After winning the toss and electing to bat for the third straight time in the series, New Zealand’s innings stalled at the outset as the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars sent down four straight maiden overs which also included the wicket of Sunday’s century-maker Aimee Mason.
Sarah Andrews took the first two wickets for Australia and finished her first spell with a miserly 2-3 off six overs as she and Emma Sampson made it impossible for New Zealand’s innings to gain any momentum.
“It was a lot better performance than Sunday obviously and I thought Emma Sampson and Sarah Andrews started it off with the ball,” Rolton said.
When Ellyse Perry entered the attack and claimed White Ferns captain Haidee Tiffen with her second ball, New Zealand had slumped to 3-14 after 10 overs.
However New Zealand’s recovery began almost immediately, with Maria Fahey and Amy Satterthwaite lifting the scoring rate to almost three per over before their productive 44-run partnership was broken in the 22nd over when Andrews entered the game again with the run out of Satterthwaite with a direct hit.
The loss of Fahey for 45 didn’t halt New Zealand’s innings as their middle order continued to accumulated runs. Their innings was aided by some indifferent fielding from Australia with dropped chances allowing Browne and Priest to steadily increase the run rate in the final overs.
After Priest was dismissed for 42 late in the innings, Browne brought up her 50 off the final ball to help New Zealand reach 8-187.
Australia’s bowling was led by Andrews (2-23), Nitschke (3-34) and Perry (1-25).
The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars’ chase got off to a disastrous start with a mix-up resulting in Shelley Nitschke’s run out in the second over.
Rolton and Bulow then steadied the innings before the Australia captain was dismissed for 27 with score on 58. In Sthalekar’s absence, Kris Britt was promoted to number four but her departure for five gave the White Ferns hope of restricting Australia.
However Bulow and Alex Blackwell (playing her first match of the series), and then Blackwell and Jodie Purves, guided Australia home with some clever shot selection and placement.
The final two matches in the Rose Bowl Series will be held this Saturday and Sunday, 28 and 29 July. Play starts at 10.00am at Gardens Oval in Darwin and entry is free. The full scoreboard from today’s match is available on Cricket Australia’s website, www.cricket.com.au. Cricket.com.au is providing live scores of all matches throughout the series.
Rose Bowl Series
Saturday 28 July: Australia v New Zealand, 10.00am-5.05pm
Sunday 29 July: Australia v New Zealand, 10.00am-5.05pm