A Sky Stadium in Wellington without spectators due to Level 2 restrictions was the background this afternoon to the first of six women’s and men’s T20 Internationals in the capital over the course of five days.
Being at an international cricket match and hearing what the players are saying is disconcerting enough, but when you can clearly hear a remote control device transporting a tv camera around the boundary rope, then you realise these are strange times.
England won the toss, decided to have a bowl and it was a decision that saw an early breakthrough. Captain Sophie Devine scored a total of 37 runs in last month’s three match ODI series against England and that international drought continued today as she departed for two at the start of the second over, caught by Sophia Dunkley at deep square leg off the bowling of Natalie Sciver.
Amy Satterthwaite was next to go in the fourth over having made 2; Sciver was again the bowler, this time Freya Davies taking the catch at mid on and the scoreboard read 10-2.
By the time the powerplay had finished after six overs, Amelia Kerr and (11) Hayley Jensen (12) had brought the score to 33-2 , due in large part to eleven runs off that sixth over.
After helping to steady things, Jensen departed for 13 off 20 balls in the eighth over having hit one to Mady Villiers at long on off Sarah Green and the White Ferns were three down with 37 on the board.
At the start of the next over, Amelia Kerr went having amassed 14 off 17, caught and bowled by Sophie Ecclestone and they were 38-4.
The eleventh over was bowled by Ecclestone and had been a productive one for the home side with 10 runs coming off it, until Brooke Halliday was comfortably stumped off the last ball by Amy Jones to leave the White Ferns at 48-5.
By this stage the White Ferns were desperately trying to build a partnership that would see them post a competitive total and they were able to hold out until Maddy Green was bowled by Sarah Glenn in the fourteenth over after a contribution of 3 off 7 balls and the score stood at 61-6.
That became 67-7 midway through the sixteenth over as Thamsyn Newton was caught and bowled by Katherine Brunt, having scored 2 runs off 6 deliveries.
Leigh Kasperek added 4 off 5 balls before getting out to the last delivery of the seventeenth over; the bowler was Villiers and Dunkley took another good catch with the result being a increasingly dismal 78-8.
In the final over Katey Martin’s resistance ended, stumped by Jones off the bowling of Brunt; Martin had comfortably top scored with 36 off 32 balls including 5 fours, but her departure saw her team stand at 95-9. New Zealand were unable to see out the full 20 overs, with Jess Kerr run out with two balls remaining having made 10 off 11 balls and the scoreboard read 96 all out.
It was looking as though England might complete the chase without losing a wicket but midway through the ninth over, Leigh Kasperek made the breakthrough, with Danni Wyatt hitting one straight to Devine at extra cover having made 33. At that stage however, England only needed 38 from 69 more balls.
Fellow opener Tammy Beaumont was also unable to stay there until the end, with Maddy Green, after a bit of juggling, eventually securing a catch out on the boundary for Kasperek to take her second wicket. 31 was now needed from 59 deliveries.
Just two balls later with a solitary run having been added, a direct hit from Jess Kerr saw Heather Knight run out for a duck and Sciver and Jones were tasked with seeing England home. There would be no more twists in the tale tough and the visitors made their target after 16 overs with Sciver not out on 26 and Jones unbeaten on 12.
White Ferns captain Sophie Devine admitted post match that they were ‘completely outplayed today by an England side that’s running red hot.’ England captain Heather Knight said she was ‘really pleased with how hard the girls came out…we were aggressive, I think we read the pitch quite well, it was very slow, a lot slower than we thought’.
So far in four limited overs encounters, England have looked a class above their hosts in all facets of the game. New Zealand have two more opportunities to change that, with the first one back at the same empty venue on Friday and then potentially in front of a crowd there on Sunday afternoon – Level 1 permitting of course.
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