BRISBANE: That Australia would conclude a domineering home series against New Zealand with their second highest ever ODI total on home shores, on the way to a record-setting 21st consecutive ODI victory, was startling enough. That they would achieve those feats with a 232-run win, without their captain Meg Lanning as well as their famed allrounder Ellyse Perry in the XI, was downright unnerving for the rest of the world.
Lanning s absence, due to a right hamstring strain sustained during her unbeaten century in the second of three ODIs on Monday, was the talk of Allan Border Field on Wednesday morning, giving New Zealand a chance to pressure a batting order shorn of its most vaunted name. Certainly it was enough to encourage Sophie Devine to send the hosts in upon winning the toss despite a slowing and ageing surface.
But the response was that of a team far more enthused than overawed by such challenges. The acting captain Rachael Haynes and Alyssa Healy combined for a commanding opening stand worth 144 in a little more than half the available overs, before Haynes and the middle order accelerated fearfully to take the Australians to 325 – only a gargantuan 397 against Pakistan in the amateur days of 1997 surpassed it among matches at home.
In the midst of the punishment, including 104 from the final 10 overs as Ashleigh Gardner, Beth Mooney and Lanning s replacement Tahlia McGrath made merry, there was also room for development: an occasionally halting but equally promising stay at No. 3 from the 18-year-old allrounder Annabel Sutherland, as she added 78 in 87 balls with Haynes.
Asked to chase a distant 326, the touring side were in trouble virtually from the start, as Devine was cramped into pulling Megan Schutt into the trap of two midwickets placed for her, departing the scene for a disconsolate first-ball duck. There onwards, the Australian bowlers did not relent, as Jess Jonassen and Georgia Wareham particularly enjoyed the expansive spin occasionally on offer.