Maddy Green and Hannah Rowe scored 29 off the last three overs after Megan Schutt had put Australia in sight of victory
New Zealand 131 for 6 (Mackay 46, Schutt 2-24) beat Australia 129 for 4 (Mooney 61*, Mackay 2-20) by four wickets
Without their captain, with another player barely able to move and a chase having seemingly slipped away, New Zealand levelled the T20I series in the second game in Napier when a final-ball bottom edge from Maddy Green reached the boundary to set up a decider in Auckland.
Sophie Devine had been ruled out of the game in the morning having woken up ill but Frankie Mackay, her replacement at the top of the order, battled through a calf injury that became progressively worse to complete a Player-of-the-Match all-round performance with her 46 off 39 balls following figures of 2 for 20 which helped restrict an underpowered Australia batting performance.
Still, it appeared Australia would again find a way to win when Megan Schutt took two wickets in two balls, including the vital wicket of Amelia Kerr, but Green and Hannah Rowe managed to score the 29 needed off the last three overs in a performance that will do much for a team that has struggled this season.
Mooney anchors, no one cuts loose
New Zealand were excellent with the ball and in the field, with Thamsyn Newton, who replaced Devine, being particularly dynamic in the outfield. But it was a curious batting performance from Australia who never cut loose despite having plenty of wickets in hand. Alyssa Healy had not got going when she skied Jess Kerr, but Beth Mooney and Meg Lanning had laid a platform. Rachael Haynes came in at No. 4 ahead of Ash Gardner with the third-wicket stand ending up being worth 49 at barely more than a run-a-ball. When the 17th over went for 11, it looked like there could be a late push, but the last three overs would go for just 20 – with the last two not bringing a single boundary.
Beware the limping Mackay
Mackay had come into the game with a tweak to her calf but managed to open the bowling as well as the batting. With the former, she went at just five an over, claiming two deserved wickets in her last over to quell any acceleration from Australia, but the injury worsened as her innings went on. However, that turned out to be a blessing in disguise for New Zealand as it meant she swung hard for the rope and struck the first sixes of her international career – the second of them into the stand over deep-midwicket. It helped keep the asking rate within reach for New Zealand and though she fell the ball after the second six, she had done her role perfectly.
Brown’s lively debut
Eighteen-year-old fast bowler Darcie Brown was handed her debut as Australia rested Tayla Vlaeminck as part of her workload management. It was an impressive start as her first two overs cost just five runs as she was given three overs in a row during the powerplay by Lanning. When she returned in the 12th over, Mackay and Amelia Kerr used her extra pace – which touched 122kph – to their advantage to find the boundary. But from her last delivery, Brown claimed her first wicket when Mooney held a sharp, juggled catch at point. A short while later, it appeared Australia had made use of that opening.
New Zealand edge it
After Brown struck, the next three overs from Jess Jonassen and Georgia Wareham went for just 11 runs as Australia applied significant pressure. Katey Martin could only manage 5 from 12 before skying to mid-on before it appeared that Schutt had swung the game the visitor’s way when Brooke Halliday and Amelia Kerr fell off the last two deliveries off the 17th over. But firstly Green and then – perhaps more unexpectedly – Rowe found boundaries in the 18th and 19th overs with Schutt’s last over going for 12 runs, which left nine needed from six balls. A perfectly-placed drive for four from Green took the pressure off, but then Nicola Carey – preferred over Ellyse Perry for the final over – went for just two off the next four deliveries. With another three runs needed off the last ball – or two for a Super Over – Green swung across the line and the bottom edge flew past leg stump.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo