White Ferns face tough super six journey
New Zealand enter the Super Six stage of the women's World Cup in India knowing one more slip up will probably be fatal to their aspirations after they lost a crucial pool match against Australia tonight.
White Ferns captain Suzie Bates' fourth one-day international hundred was in vain as Australia made light work of New Zealand's 227-6 in Cuttack, cruising past the total for the loss of three wickets in just the 39th over, courtesy of a Meg Lanning ton.
Both teams, along with South Africa, progress to the next stage but Australia carry through an extra two points than the Kiwis courtesy of their victory.
The top two teams after the Super Six crossover matches go straight through to the final in Mumbai on February 17 and with Australia already a game ahead, New Zealand will probably need to win all three Super Six matches, including one against defending champions England, to feature in the title decider.
Bates, coming off scores of 73 and 65 not out against South Africa and Pakistan in the first two matches, held New Zealand's innings together with another composed knock, the Otago opener scoring 102 and striking 12 fours in the 134-ball stay.
Having been sent into bat after fog delayed the start, New Zealand were in danger of being rolled when they collapsed to 39-4 in the 13th over.
Bates shared two vital partnerships, the first a 103-run stand for the fifth wicket with Auckland middle-order batsman Katie Perkins, who faced 78 balls for 41 before she was run out with New Zealand's total at 142 in the 38th over.
Experienced Northern Districts allrounder Nicola Browne (39 not out from 42 balls) then did exactly what she needed to, scoring at a run-a-ball in a 69-run partnership for the sixth wicket, while Rachel Priest's cameo (14 not out from six balls) pulled New Zealand's run-rate above 4.5.
It was much better than the early outlook as Australian opening bowler Megan Schutt ripped through the top order claiming the scalps of Lucy Doolan (9), Amy Satterthwaite (0) and the key wicket of Sophie Devine (9) in her first spell. She would finish the innings with 3-40 from 10.
Australia made a slow start to be 33-1 after 10 overs but the 20-year-old opener Lanning, who has already thwarted New Zealand several times in her short career and averages close to 50, combined with Jess Cameron to plunder 182 runs from 169 balls for the second wicket.
Cameron made 82 from 87 balls while Lanning, already a star in women's cricket, achieved her fourth ODI century in just her 18th match. She perished with the end in sight, for a 104-ball 112 that included 17 fours and a six.
New Zealand's first Super Six match is on Friday, with their opponent to be confirmed.