Final-Ball Decides Thrilling T20 Series Between NZ and Australia

New Zealand women’s cricket produced a stellar team performance to overcome Australia’s second test of the three-match series. An exciting finish prompted by numerous late wickets means the deciding test will be played in Auckland on Thursday. After the men’s team reigned victorious over Australia earlier this month, the women held their nerves and forced a third tie despite some late drama.

A batsman running up the wicket.

New Zealand wicketkeeper Katey Martin caught two Australian batswomen in the second test, solidifying her status as the best women for the job. ©shents/Pixabay

New Zealand came flying out the gates and quickly took control of the second test, earning a healthy 110-3 with five overs remaining. However, Australia wouldn’t go down so easily and caused some late drama with some excellent bowling performances from Megan Schutt and Georgia Wareham. Despite this late fightback, New Zealand batswomen Maddy Green and Hannah Rowe decided the contest, winning by four wickets.

From the get-go, the anticipation for a closely contested duel was building. In bat, Australia had managed 129-4, a respectable score and a great afternoon for opener Beth Mooney, scoring 61. She remained not out for the rest of the innings. Frances Mackay managed to bowl Rachel Haynes for 29 and Ashleigh Gardner for 3. In the end, New Zealand would only take four wickets, leaving their batsman with a steep mountain to climb.

New Zealand had a point to prove as they began their innings in bat. After losing the first test by six wickets, this was a make or break. An inconsiderable prospect, Australia’s Women’s team haven’t lost a T20 series since 2017. They are currently world champions thanks to a stellar four year run in a side captained by the excellent Meg Lanning.

Missing their captain Sophie Devine through illness, New Zealand showed enough spirit to win the series producing multiple excellent batting displays. Frances Mackay, in particular, shined brighter than the rest, scoring 46 from 39. She led the way for the White Ferns, dispatching ball after ball.

A Nervy Ending for The White Ferns

Roughly after 14 overs, New Zealand looked to be in cruise control and within touching distance of claiming victory. However, what followed was some incredibly naïve and shaky batting, only piling on the pressure and raising the stakes for the series. In particular, Nicola Carey and Megan Schutt bowled almost perfectly to take the test to the final over.

A quick look at the bench indicated the sheer tension building in Mclean Park. With their hearts in their mouths, they shouted some final words of encouragement to their two batswomen. Nicola Carey of Australia stepped up to the crease, ready to secure the tie for her team. In the previous test, she claimed a single wicket from three overs. She returned to leave her mark on this tie indefinitely.

In her final over, Nicola Carey’s yorkers took the innings to the last ball. Maddy Green stood at the crease showing no sign of weakness, under-edged the final ball and found the boundary. New Zealand’s bench erupted in celebration as they extended their series lifeline to a final match. Spectators can only hope that the third match held in Auckland will be as exciting as the second.

As for the outlook on the sportsbooks for this game, these were much higher than seasonal forecasts initially suggested. Similar to the huge betting volumes during the Cricket World Cup, New Zealands punters pledged huge sums of money on this match in another staggering show of interest in women’s cricket.

Looking Ahead to the Final Clash

With the final test approaching this Thursday, The White Ferns have plenty to play for. They could be the first side in 4 years to defeat Australia in a Twenty20 series. Their last defeat was to India, where they suffered a considerable loss not just on the field but within the squad. After the conclusion of the series, Australia fired several of their coaching staff and appointed Matthew Mott in 2018; since then, he has remained undefeated and managed to secure the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in the year he was selected.

On the other hand, New Zealand produced performances of a mixed bag in their recent competitive history. Their previous test series saw them lose 3-0 to an impressive England side. At the time, it was a serious bump in the road for the squad, capping off consecutive defeats to Australia, West Indies, India, and Sri Lanka.

Now that they’ve secured themselves a final test thriller, the potential for a string of good results is there. Despite previously losing their captain Sophie Devine to illness, they managed to go toe to toe with some of the world’s best sides. Now it’s down to Thursday. Will Australia retain their title and continue their unbeaten run, or will New Zealand shock the world and end their losing streak.

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