Aussies claim second T20 against White Ferns
New Zealand and Australia will play a series decider on Thursday after splitting the women's international Twenty20 cricket double-header in Melbourne today.
The White Ferns drew first blood with a six-wicket win, with two balls to spare, in the opener at Junction Oval in St Kilda, but the hosts bounced back with a five-wicket victory, with one ball to spare, in the second fixture.
The two teams will play a third match, at the same venue, on Thursday before flying out to India for the 50-over World Cup, which starts next week.
The tight nature of both matches was pleasing for New Zealand captain Suzie Bates, who described them as "awesome preparation".
"It was unfortunate that we couldn't get across the line in the second match but we played well in both games, it was an improvement from the Rose Bowl series."
Some gutsy late hitting from Nicola Browne saw White Ferns come back from the brink to snatch the first match.
New Zealand did well to restrict the hosts to 151-7 from their 20 overs, but the game looked to have drifted away when the Kiwis required 29 off the final two overs.
However, allrounder Browne stepped up, smacking two sixes and a four as Sarah Coyte conceded 21 runs off the penultimate over. The match was sealed when Browne hit her third six, in the final over bowled by Erin Osbourne.
Browne was unbeaten on 34 from 17 balls and put on 54 unbeaten runs for the fifth wicket, from just 31 balls, with Frances Mackay (24 not out from 25 balls).
Earlier, big hitter Sophie Devine (39 from 29) and opener Suzie Bates (42 from 38) put on 67 for the third wicket after the early loss of Lucy Doolan and Amy Satterthwaite.
But when Devine departed, momentum slowed so much that New Zealand required Browne's heroics to get across the line.
Devine also stood out in the field, effecting two run-outs with her powerful arm. Australia recovered from losing their first two wickets without scoring to post 151, thanks largely to opener Meg Lanning's 76 from 56 balls.
Spinner Morna Neilsen shone with the ball for New Zealand, taking 2-25 from four overs after opening the bowling.
Despite laying a solid platform batting first in the second match, New Zealand struggled to get the Australian bowlers away and had to settle for 132-6.
Satterthwaite top-scored with 44 from 41 balls, Bates (32) completed a handy double and Browne made a run-a-ball 26.
Australia always looked in control with Lanning, the outstanding player of the day, again top-scoring. She made 64 from 56 balls.
But despite requiring just 21 from the last four overs, the hosts still took the game to the penultimate ball as New Zealand's death bowling stood up to the test.
Opening bowlers Lea Tahuhu (1-13 from four) and Sian Ruck (2-17 from three), were the pick of the Kiwis in the second match.
1st T20: Australia 151-7 off 20 overs (Meg Lanning 76; Morna Neilsen 2-25) lost to New Zealand 152-4 off 19.4 overs (Suzie Bates 42, Sophie Devine 39, Nicola Browne 34 not out) by six wickets.
2nd T20: New Zealand 132-6 off 20 overs (Amy Satterthwaite 44, Suzie Bates 32; Megan Schutt 2-20) lost to Australia 135-5 off 19.5 overs (Meg Lanning 64; Sian Ruck 2-17, Lea Tahuhu 1-13) by five wickets.