Maddy Green keeps New Zealand in series after England top order falters

Despite eve-of-game nerves surrounding a potential security threat, the third one-day international between England and New Zealand took place without a single hiccup. Unless, that is, you count the home side’s batting: for the second time in two matches, England’s top-order looked shot, as they stumbled to 78 for seven after 23 overs.

The 30-year-old Lea Tahuhu wreaked the havoc, finishing with five for 38 – her best return in 10 years of international cricket. The debutant Molly Penfold, billed as a “beast” by her captain, Sophie Devine, then chimed in with two for 42.

England’s tail added another 100, including an unbeaten 49 from Katherine Brunt and a career-best 29 off 40 balls from Kate Cross, setting up a nervous chase for New Zealand. But while wickets fell at regular intervals, Maddy Green’s unbeaten 70 – her second highest score in ODIs – saw New Zealand chase down the required runs with three wickets and 25 balls to spare, to deny England a series victory with two games left to play.

The series had come under the spotlight on Monday, after reports emerged that a bomb threat had been made against the New Zealand team. An investigation was launched by the England and Wales Cricket Board and security tightened up around the team. But a statement by New Zealand Cricket later suggested that the threat had been deemed “not credible”, and Devine said at the toss that there had never been any doubt about the match going ahead. “We got some really clear information and we were able to sit tight and wait for the people to do their jobs,” she said. “In instances like this, like with Covid, we’ve learned that there’s experts in the field that we need to trust and we’ve been really lucky with the communication that we’ve received and have full faith in what they’ve told us.”

Her team appeared to have been little affected: after she won the toss and inserted England for the third time in the series, a six-over spell from Tahuhu saw England slump to 32 for four in the powerplay – their worst showing in an ODI since they were routed at Canterbury by Ellyse Perry in 2019. Tahuhu’s reputation in a decade of international cricket has been founded on sheer pace, but following multiple foot surgeries earlier in the year, this was a steadier display, with nothing more or less complicated than disciplined line and length yielding substantial returns.

The openers, Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield-Hill, were trapped LBW in successive overs – a smart DRS review which overturned Sue Redfern’s not-out decision doing for Beaumont – before an away-swinger took Heather Knight’s outside edge on the way through to the keeper, and Sophia Dunkley was clean bowled by a straight one.

Amy Jones played a beautiful hand to reach 21, but Penfold darted one between bat and pad and had her bowled, before doing for Danni Wyatt thanks to a brilliant diving catch from Lauren Down at backward point. Tahuhu then returned to take her fifth: a nervous-looking Charlie Dean playing on. At that point, New Zealand had England by the scruff of the neck but Brunt and Cross proved frustratingly hard to dislodge.

In reply, Suzie Bates was saved from first-ball ignominy – adjudged too far down the pitch for England’s DRS review to overrule the original not-out decision – but Brunt eventually got her woman in the fifth over, bowled through the gate. Eleven balls later she also removed Lauren Down, slicing to backward point, to leave New Zealand 13 for two.

She would go on to pick up two more before the match was done, eventually returning four for 22, along the way becoming only the second woman in history to take 300 wickets in international cricket. But after Green shared important partnerships with Amy Satterthwaite (33) and Brooke Halliday (25), and with Brunt’s 10 overs done and dusted at the end of the 43rd, Tahuhu (19 not out from 15) seized the initiative with the bat, smashing three fours before lofting the ball over Tash Farrant’s head for six to seal the win.

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