White Ferns smash Australia in final warm-up match

Publish Date
Tuesday, 1 March 2022, 6:10PM
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The White Ferns have produced the ultimate confidence boost going into the World Cup, smashing Australia by nine wickets in their final warm-up match today.

Chasing 322 to win, the White Ferns brutalised the Australian bowlers to reach the target with a whopping 41 balls to spare at Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln.

Sophie Devine blasted a phenomenal unbeaten 161 off 117 balls, Amelia Kerr crushed 92 not out off 75 and Suzie Bates 63 off 68 to all have runs under their belt heading into the World Cup opener against the West Indies at Bay Oval on Friday.

Given this was just an unofficial warm-up, Australia weren't tackling the match with their usual intensity, using nine bowlers and giving no bowler more than seven overs as they preferred to give all their players some match practice before the Cup begins.

And to prove why overreaction would be unwise, just two days earlier the White Ferns had lost by four wickets to an unfancied Pakistan team, with both openers failing and the hosts limping to 229 all out in 45 overs.

Devine noted that while the team were "really happy" with their performance, they are not getting carried away by warm-up games. However, on a personal level she was pleased to unleash a big innings after scores of 13, 33, 0, 32 and 34 in the five ODIs against India.

"It was a really nice flat batting wicket, so a perfect opportunity to get out there.

"I actually spoke to my [psychiatrist] last night and used it as a bit of a reset – I probably felt that I'd missed out in the India series and watching all the other batters do the job, it certainly made me a bit jealous.

"I don't put pressure on myself in terms of wanting to score runs, I know I just need to trust in the process and today was a really good example of that – when I stick to some really simple key points I know the outcome will take care of itself."

Even noting the unofficial nature of the fixture, dominating Australia is an impressive performance and one that should provide a warning to the other teams – if they weren't already aware – that the White Ferns have recovered from their woes of the past few years and are a legitimate threat at their home World Cup.

Australia won 26 consecutive ODI matches between 2017 and September last year, when India finally snapped their world record run. They then claimed three comfortable wins over England last month, and have won their last 12 ODIs against New Zealand.

That has made them significant favourites to claim glory at the World Cup, but if Bates, Devine and Kerr can keep up their run-scoring form, then the White Ferns may have a role to play in spoiling that favouritism.

Hannah Rowe was the pick of the bowlers for the White Ferns today, taking 4-49, while young spinner Fran Jonas conceded just 19 runs from six overs as Meg Lanning (87 off 86), Alyssa Healy (64 off 71), Ashleigh Gardner (60 off 32) and Beth Mooney (55 off 51) set a lofty total for the Ferns to chase.

However, Bates, Devine and Kerr were up to the challenge, with Devine particularly ruthless as she smacked 23 fours and four sixes – the most ominous warning sign in a statement of intent ahead of the Cup opener.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission