White Ferns dash to bolster bowling attack

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 05:00 16/12/2012

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The New Zealand women's cricket team have bolstered their bowling resources in an attempt to tame Australian nemesis Meg Lanning as the annual Rose Bowl series reaches must-win territory for the White Ferns.

If they are to win the trophy for the first time since 1999, New Zealand must win the final two games of the four-match series at North Sydney Oval tomorrow and Wednesday.

The White Ferns opened the annual trans-Tasman ODI encounter with an eight-wicket win at the SCG last week - their first victory over Australia since 2009 - but were unable to defend 288 in game two at North Sydney Oval on Friday and consequently face an uphill battle.

Lanning opened the series with 87 from 71 balls and the opener ran amok again in game two, smashing 72 off 53 to set up Australia's ultimately comfortable four-wicket triumph.

Her domination of the White Ferns attack is so pronounced - 22 boundaries and three sixes so far - that Lanning has been dismissed only by run-outs - she slipped over in game one and was sacrificed by Rachael Haynes on Friday.

"Lanning's a dasher," new White Ferns coach Katrina Keenan said.

In tandem with Haynes, Lanning enabled the Australians to post triple figures inside 13 overs, an assault that convinced New Zealand's selectors to replace injured allrounder Sophie Devine.

Designated as a frontline bowler, Devine hurt a foot while training and returned home on Thursday without playing a game; 22-year-old medium pacer Lea Tahuhu joined the squad yesterday as a replacement and could be pressed into service immediately.

Tahuhu played the last of her seven ODIs against England in March and has only taken two wickets at 86.00 but, with next month's World Cup in India also a consideration, Keenan said the rookie may feature.

"She's got potential, she's still pretty young and moving forward it's probably a good opportunity to bring someone into the group," Keenan, a quick bowler who played 54 ODIs for New Zealand between 1995-2000, said.

Devine's absence has been keenly felt with New Zealand struggling to stem the flow of runs with the new ball.

Nicola Browne has had a particularly challenging time, conceding 43 runs in five overs split across two matches. She was not alone in being taken apart by Lanning and co - only left-arm spinner Morna Nielsen has avoided punishment so far, taking 2-39 and 3-36 from 20 overs.

The debrief into Friday's disappointing defeat resumes today after the players had a day off to explore Sydney yesterday, with Keenan acknowledging a focus on bowling plans was inevitable.

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"The first 10-11 overs, they scored 113. It's pretty hard to come back," she said, revisiting the Lanning/Haynes double act.

"Morna bowled particularly well but again we need to execute on a length," she said.

Keenan added Suzie Bates would be urged to bowl herself. The captain was not among Friday's six-pronged attack.

"She is a strike bowler in our domestic competition [for Otago] so we will look at that," Keenan, noting fellow medium pacer Sarah Coyte has done a decent job for the Southern Stars to date, said.

- Sunday Star Times

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