By Matthew Sherry
All-rounder Sophie Devine starred as New Zealand wrapped up a 2-1 NatWest Women's International T20 Series win over England with a nine-run victory at Hove.
The 20-year-old backed up an impressive 23 with the bat by taking 3-26, including the prized wicket of Claire Taylor, as England never recovered from losing four wickets for just 17 runs in the middle overs.
Lucy Doolan also claimed three wickets, while Kate Broadmore and Nicola Browne chipped in with one apiece as the White Ferns cruised to victory.
Danielle Hazell had earlier impressed with the ball for England, taking 3-16 from her four overs, to restrict New Zealand to 124 for eight.
However, her effots proved in vain as the 2009 World Twenty20 winners fell short of the victory target.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, the White Ferns made a solid start in the first six overs as opening pair Aimee Watkins and Suzie Bates mixed classic strokeplay and good running between the wickets to reach 30 without loss.
England immediately brought on left-arm spinner Holly Colvin after the powerplay, but New Zealand continued their assault as Bates hit a wonderful inside-out drive over cover for four.
Despite the openers looking good against spin, skipper Charlotte Edwards stuck to her guns, bowling Hazell from the other end.
And the move paid off instantly as the 22-year-old accounted for both openers in her second over.
First, captain Watkins picked out Jenny Gunn at long-on, before Bates hit straight to Edwards at cover, allowing the skipper to take a smart catch.
Those two wickets brought Sara McGlashan and Devine together, but the pair were clearly struggling against England's wily spinners.
The pressure paid off in the 12th over as Hazell claimed her eigth wicket of the series when McGlashan perished for just one trying to force the pace, leaving the tourists 61 for three.
New Zealand tried to rebuild as Devine and Liz Perry put on 17 for the fifth wicket before Colvin bowled the former with a beautifully flighted delivery.
Browne added some much-needed impetus for the tourists, but they continued to lose wickets as Perry succumbed to Nicky Shaw.
Browne departed for a 15-ball 22 soon after, bowled by Katherine Brunt attempting a wild heave across the line.
Shaw removed Amy Satterthwaite in the final over and Rachel Priest was run out as the White Ferns set the hosts 125 to win.
England stuttered early in their reply as Sarah Taylor was bowled by Nicola Browne for just seven.
The hosts rebuilt, though, as Edwards and Claire Taylor put on 24 for the second wicket before the former was removed by Devine for an enterprising 19.
And their cause looked desperate in the 11th over when Devine first picked up Claire Taylor for 12 and then removed Laura Marsh two balls later.
New Zealand continued to pressure England's faltering batting line-up and struck again as Broadmore sent back Gunn, leaving the home side reeling on 52 for five.
Lydia Greenway and Danielle Wyatt briefly threatened to rescue England, but they were left needing an unlikely 45 runs from the final four overs.
When Wyatt top-edged a sweep off Doolan to Sian Ruck at fine-leg the game was all but over.
Greenway and Hazell also perished in pursuit of quick runs as claimed New Zealand their second game in as many days.
Defeated skipper Edwards said: “The bowlers did their job, they bowled well, especially Danielle Hazell and Katherine (Brunt).
"I’m obviously disappointed, we had plans in place and we came here to win today.
"We have a one day international with Ireland and a game against the England Academy to focus on now, as we get back to 50-over cricket, which suits us.”
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images