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White Ferns and Australia set-up T20 decider

Published: 9:29PM Tuesday January 22, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

  • Suzie Bates (Source: Photosport)
    Suzie Bates - Source: Photosport

The New Zealand White Ferns and Australian Southern Stars will play-off for the Women's Twenty20 International Series title on Thursday, after the two teams split the pair of matches played today at Junction Oval, Melbourne.

Both encounters came down to the final over of the innings, but having overcome Australia in the first match by six wickets, the White Ferns were unable to wrap up the series and suffered a narrow five wicket loss in the second.

Both performances were impressive from the New Zealand side, who will be pleased with their solid showing against an international opponent ahead of the ICC Women's One Day World Cup in India beginning later this month.

In the second match, Australia managed to keep their series hopes alive with a four off the penultimate ball of the innings to surpass the White Fern's first-innings total of 132 for six.

Sarah Coyte (9*) and Jodie Fields (14*) reached the boundary twice in the final over to knock off the nine they had required with six balls to go. It was a tense finish to a match which had seen the momentum swing from one side to the other throughout it.

Primarily responsible for Australia's success was opener Meg Lanning. Having been a constant threat in the recent Rose Bowl series, Lanning again showed her quality with 64 from 56 balls.

Alongside a couple of handy contributions from the middle-order she took her side to within 21 of victory, before she was finally caught off the bowling of Sian Ruck.

Her departure saw the required run-rate escalate immediately, but not quite enough as the White Ferns failed to close out the match.

Earlier, the top four had all featured prominently for the White Ferns, with Amy Satterthwaite top-scoring with 44.

Openers Suzie Bates (32) and Frances Mackay (20) had shown promising signs early on to lead their side to 48 without loss. Their dismissals slowed the White Ferns down somewhat, but Satterthwaite and Nicola Browne (26) wrestled back the momentum to reach 120 for two.

However, four late wickets thwarted the White Ferns chance to take advantage of the platform they'd set. It meant they were forced to settle for a slightly disappointing and yet still respectable 132.

The White Ferns may well look back at the match and feel the series should have been wrapped up there and then, but they left in no doubt they could compete with their Trans-Tasman rivals.

In the opening match the White Ferns had prevailed after Nicola Browne smashed an unbeaten 34 off 17 balls in truly spectacular fashion.

Chasing 152 for victory, the visitors had been behind the required run-rate for much of the match, but following three towering sixes from Browne in the last two overs they went on to claim victory with two balls to spare.

Needing 46 from the last four overs and with two relatively new batsmen at the crease, the possibility of a White Ferns victory seemed almost inconceivable. Frances Mackay (24*) and Browne kept their side somewhat in touch though, but with two overs to go were still 29 runs short.

Cue an unbelieving innings from Browne, who showed her belligerent best to knock the total off with two balls remaining.

The early foundations had been laid down by Bates (42) and the returning Sophie Devine (39). Both players were dynamic in the opening exchanges, but will likely receive little recognition having been overshadowed by Browne's heroics.

Usual suspect Lanning had once again caused headaches for the White Ferns earlier, slamming 76 from 59 deliveries, including nine fours. Cameos from Alex Blackwell (29) and Jodie Fields (17*) pushed Australia onwards and upwards and at the end of their allotted overs they had built an imposing 151 for seven.

The White Ferns used eight different bowlers throughout the innings, with Morna Nielsen the pick of them with figures of two for 25, while Tahuhu's two overs went for just six runs.

The victory was a remarkable fight back and was the first time in recent memory they had come out on top in a tight match against Australia.

It all bodes well for the White Ferns, who have shown great form ahead of the World Cup.

The decider begins 11:30am Thursday (NZ time). The White Ferns travel to India the following day.