The WHITE FERNS and Amy Satterthwaite found themselves at the epicentre of excitement at Bay Oval where they were looking to lift the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1999.
There was massive interest in whether Satterthwaite, the calm first drop in the form of her life, would become the first in the world to score five One-Day Internationals in a row. After another gritty innings the anchor would ultimately be caught just 15 runs short from immortality, but not before playing out of her skin yet again at a sweltering Bay Oval to guide the WHITE FERNS to a solid total of 253 for eight.
Sent into bat, Suzie Bates and Rachel Priest made a measured start against returning Australian star Ellyse Perry — finally back in the Australian mix after injury. Perry would make the first breakthrough for her team by knocking out Priest’s stumps in the fifth over — but an elbow injury would then knock her out of the attack just as quickly, doing herself in as she tried to dive to to stop Bates driving the ball back at her.
Up against an initially slow outfield, one that gathered pace as the sun bore down in the afternoon, Bates knuckled down and began finding the boundary. The captain looked to settling be in for a good day in the middle before she slipped over as Amanda-Jane Wellington drifted the ball down to Alyssa Healy’s gloves: stumped, in the most frustrating manner, with no option but to depart on 35 as the WHITE FERNS’ score went to 55 for two after 16.
Katey Martin (43) joined Amy “no pressure” Satterthwaite. With the outfield slow, they made their runs the hard way, initially — running aggressively between the wickets to elevate the scoring rate without taking unnecessary risks against Lanning’s equally aggessive ring field.
Lanning was left kicking herself as she dropped a simple chance at slip off Ashleigh Gardner on ODI debut, the pair chalking up the New Zealand hundred in the 26th over. Satterthwaite was dropped three times across her innings, as if the cricket gods were sitting on her shoulders along with everyone else willing her on to the scarcely believable.
She has composed her innings from grit, starting slowly — it took her 10 balls to get off the mark, before reaching her half century with her first boundary of the day. That was testament to a tough battle, the WHITE FERNS determined to give as good as they got.
Katie Perkins helped get the scoreboard humming with a lively run-a-ball 38 that included five boundaries, accompanying Satterthwaite through to 77 while the first drop focussed on the long haul. She would bat 42.3 overs in the heat, once again finding the energy to lift herself that extra level at the death to slam the first six of the day, a lovely lofted straight hit.
That six was then matched by Anna Peterson a few balls later, but Perkins and Peterson would both be caught in the hands of Beth Mooney — the latter putting Renée Farrell on an unconverted hat-trick.
Farrell had picked up the most talked about wicket of the day already in that 47th over as Satterthwaite made her way back to a standing ovation and masses of cheering for an 85, such was the awareness of her form and achievements.
Although wicketless, spinner Jess Jonassen impressed for Australia while young Wellington continued her wicket-taking ways with 3-52, but the WHITE FERNS had finished well en route to a total of 253 for eight, the last wicket Lea Tahuhu’s sacrificial runout on the final delivery.
Holly Huddleston broke through in the seventh over, bowling Nicole Bolton to usher in Meg Lanning. The Australian captain initially struggled for timing, but would dig in for an 87-run stand with opener Beth Mooney. Lanning reached 44 at run-a-ball pace with some lovely strokes before the introduction of 16-year-old Amelia Kerr created a flurry of much-needed wickets.
Lanning departed first, bowled by Kerr’s wrong ’un. Next ball, the ripper from Tawa College had Ellyse Villani on her way for a golden duck to put herself on a hat-trick.
While Australia survived the hat-trick ball, it wasn’t a long wait for Kerr’s third wicket as she added Mooney as well on 57: from 109 for one, now Australia was 138 for four in the 27th, and Kerr had taken all three of her wickets bowled.
Australia had been well ahead of their target run rate, but Kerr’s flurry helped peg them back before Alex Blackwell and Alyssa Healy combined and clawed the way back with an 81-run stand for the fifth wicket. The outfield now quicker under the blazing sun, the WHITE FERNS’ hopes now rested on bowling Australia out, Bates bringing Kerr back in the 37th over as she attempted to chip away herself at the other end, Australia’s 200 going up on the board in the 38th.
At the 40-over mark the equation had shrunk to 35 off 60 balls, Australia 219 for four, Blackwell having saluted for her half-century and Healy providing her with solid support. Just when hometown heads were sagging, Kerr sprang back and took out Healy — with a caught and bowled this time: 219 for five, the 35 runs still required.
It looked then as though Blackwell and Jonassen would be able to guide Australia home, the asking rate well in their favour. However, Anna Peterson was able to rock Australia’s boat late in the piece, managing to dislodge Blackwell who, until then, had been steadily doing the business through the back half of the innings with her 65.
Her wicket saw Ashleigh Gardner arrive at the crease on debut and if she did have any nerves, they didn’t show as she combined with Jonassen to keep the run rate at a comfortable level.
Ellyse Perry unable to bat, the lower order duo combined for a handy partnership of 19 to see Australia home with four wickets in hand at the start of the 48th over.
The Series will be decided on Sunday at the same venue, Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval from 11am. Entry is free and if you're not in the Bay you can still follow the match with live commentary and a livestream here at www.blackcaps.co.nz