New Zealand and Australia aim to strengthen grip on semi-finals
- Match 11: New Zealand Women v Australia Women
- Basin Reserve, Wellington
- Sunday 13 March, 11:00 Local Time
Australia are favourites to lift the World Cup trophy for the seventh time in their history come the end of this tournament, and would put one foot in the semi-finals with a third straight win at the start of the group stage.
Victories over England and Pakistan have been built on the brilliance of a batting line-up that has dominated the international game for the last five years.
And Australia’s Alyssa Healy, who tops the ICC Women’s ODI Batting Rankings – one of four Aussies in the top ten – says that their aggressive approach is a result of a long-term strategy.
“It was almost a challenge that (coach) Matthew Mott gave me and our top order to see how we could revamp the way we wanted to play one day cricket,” Healy, who scored an excellent 72 against Pakistan, said.
“It was just a great opportunity for me to take that on and know that I was backed. I really wanted to come into this World Cup and make an impact and show people that I could still do that job I suppose.
“It's such an amazing batting line-up to be a part of that doesn't come off on any given day. I know that there’s Rachel Haynes at the other end and Meg Lanning can come in and Pez (Ellyse Perry) and Moon (Beth Mooney), I mean, it's pretty formidable.
“So we're pretty blessed and it can, I guess, give us the freedom to go out there play our shots and put our side into good positions to win any game.”
But Australia were given a rare lesson in batting dominance just prior to the start of the tournament in a warm-up game against Sunday’s opponents, when New Zealand chased down 321 with the loss of just a single wicket and with 41 balls remaining.
Captain Sophie Devine was the star on that day, smashing a brilliant 161* and ably supported by Suzie Bates (63) and Amelia Kerr (92*).
And New Zealand will hope that playing so many games over the past month will set them up for a similar showing in Wellington.
“We knew that we were going to be you know, playing every three days, a bit of travel in between there as well,” Lea Tahuhu said of her side’s busy schedule. “But that's all part of it. And especially if you get some good form under the belt you hope that you can just keep rolling with them.
“You know, having all of the countries here in New Zealand is pretty amazing. And certainly keeping an eye on what else is going on. We got on a plane, trained the next day and then we're into things again, against Australia. So yeah, we're really enjoying it. It's a busy time but it's also fantastic.”
Australia Squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Darcie Brown, Nic Carey, Ash Gardner, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Amanda-Jade Wellington. Travelling reserves: Georgia Redmayne, Heather Graham
New Zealand Squad: Sophie Devine (c), Amy Satterthwaite (vc), Suzie Bates, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Fran Jonas, Jess Kerr, Melie Kerr, Frankie Mackay, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Georgia Plimmer, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu. Travelling Reserve: Molly Penfold
CWC22 DREAM11 FANTASY WATCH
Captaincy Pick – Rachael Haynes
Australia’s vice-captain scored a magnificent 130 off 131 balls with 14 boundaries and one maximum in their first match against England. She stitched together a 196-run partnership with Meg Lanning which helped them post that massive total of 310, which proved a bit too much for the English. Haynes also got her side off to a fast start against Pakistan, scoring at a run-a-ball for her 34.
Captaincy Pick – Amelia Kerr
New Zealand’s all-rounder came into the World Cup in terrific form and offers genuine quality with both bat and ball. She was in power-hitting mode against Bangladesh in her side’s second game, blasting an unbeaten 47* from 37 balls to help the tournament hosts to victory. And Kerr was superb against India too, stroking an excellent half-century before picking up three key wickets.
WHAT THEY SAID
New Zealand all-rounder Maddy Green: "I think any game in a World Cup is important. So I don't think this game is any more or less important than the rest of the games for us. I think Australia probably set the benchmark in woman's world cricket in the last few years and to get a win over them tomorrow would put us in an excellent position but we're just taking each game as it comes at the moment."
Australia captain Meg Lanning: "I think early wickets and constant wicket taking abilities is very important in this World Cup. Once the good batters get set, they can be very hard to remove. And you know, that's what allows the really big totals when there's a really good platform there."
Alyssa Healy - There's a reason why Healy is rated as the best ODI batter in the world on the MRF Tyres ICC Women's Batting Rankings, with her ability to score quickly at the start of an innings an important feature of the 31-year-old's game. Healy has three ODI centuries and 13 half-centuries to her name for Australia, but it's her impressive strike rate (99.39) in 50-over cricket that stands out.
Sophie Devine - Devine's experience with bat and ball is invaluable, but it is perhaps her tactical nous that is her most underrated asset of all. The White Ferns skipper always sets good fields and generally rotates her bowlers well to ensure batters don't become too comfortable. Devine can also turn a game with bat or ball and will be crucial to the fortunes of the home nation.
This is one of seven matches to be held at the Basin Reserve in Wellington over the course of the tournament. An established international-standard ground, 'The Basin' will also be the site of the first semi-final in a couple of weeks' time.
All eight teams at the tournament will play each other across seven rounds in a league format.
The top four teams in the standings after the conclusion of the Group Stage will qualify for the semi-finals, which will be held in the final week of March.
Australia’s remaining tournament fixtures:
15 March v West Indies
19 March v India
22 March v South Africa
25 March v Bangladesh
New Zealand’s remaining tournament fixtures:
17 March v South Africa
20 March v England
26 March v Pakistan