Charlotte Edwards called right for the 7th time in eight games in this tour and had no hesitation in asking the White Ferns to have another go at setting England a target to chase down. The pitch looked a belter, but there was just a hint of moisture on the wicket and the outfield, so bowling was probably the right option. As the Kiwis raced to 34/0 after three overs from Brunt (25 runs) and two from Cross (nine runs), Edwards may have been wondering how many England would be chasing.
Fortunately for England Suzie Bates and Rachel Priest again got themselves out when they needed to bide their time. Bates slashed Grundy to Marsh at point, and Priest plonked her to a grateful Nat Sciver at extra cover. Amy Satterthwaite looked all at sea against the returning Brunt and eventually lost her leg peg to Cross, when she too returned. New Zealand were 53/3 in the 12th over. Sophie Devine and Kate Broadmore decided that caution was the better part of valour, tapping singles through to the 21st over when they had added just 30 more runs. Broadmore then fell lbw playing across the line to Marsh. Sara McGlashan came to the crease in her Kiwi record-breaking 126th ODI, but she was undone by a sublime bit of keeping by Sarah Taylor. She had hardly left her crease, when she was beaten by a Marsh quicker ball. Before she had a chance to react Taylor had removed the bails and McGlashan was on her way.
Devine now found a willing and more able partner in Katie Perkins. Perkins was happy to knock the ball about and put Devine on strike, but as the partnership grew so did Perkins confidence and her ability to drive the ball. They had taken the Kiwi total to 176 when Devine skied Sciver (bowling her first over of the tour and the 44th of the innings) high to Cross at mid-off, who breathed a sigh of relief as she held onto the catch. Peterson and Bermingham came and went quickly, but Perkins (70*) carried on nicely, aided by some nice drives by the tall Tahuhu (16*) as the White Ferns ended on 230/8. It looked a decent score, but nothing more. Grundy finished with 3/36 and Marsh 2/36.
England's reply got off to the worst possible start when Heather Knight was out lbw to Tahuhu in the first over, but Taylor and Edwards made serene progress to 59 before Edwards played another legside shot, but missed and was adjudged lbw. Danni Wyatt came to join Taylor, her first chance with the bat all tour, but she could only get to 7 before she too was lbw, this time sweeping at Georgia Guy. A more confident Lydia Greenway walked to the crease and she and Taylor took the score to 114/3 before Greenway played on to a Broadmore slower ball.
The nagging doubts were still there, but Nat Sciver came in and played with time and style. The difference this time was that she went on with her innings to her highest ODI score, unbeaten on 65. It looked for all the world as if Taylor was going to notch her 6th ODI century, when she took 15 off a Devine over, having been dropped off the first ball of the over. But in the next she took on Amy Satterthwaite's arm from the deep cover boundary and lost to be run out for 93. It was no matter to Sciver, who carried serenely on, with the help of Brunt and took England to the win with five overs to spare.
I will let the dust settle and have a couple of beers to celebrate before considering the pros and cons from this tour, and England's chances against the Aussies this summer.
It has been a great experience being here in New Zealand for the whole tour and writing for the ECB website. It was a shame that more media could not have been here for the series. They missed some good stuff.
Full scorecard here
Full scorecard here