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Sophie Devine seals century off final ball as New Zealand win ODI but England take series 2-1
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Sophie Devine seals century off final ball as New Zealand win ODI but England take series 2-1

England’s tour of New Zealand ended in disappointment with a seven-wicket loss in the final ODI, courtesy of a brilliant century from New Zealand captain Sophie Devine.

Devine had missed the fifth T20 and the first two ODIs with a quad injury, but was passed fit to play on Sunday and made it count as New Zealand reached their 195-run target with 11 overs to spare. The only question was whether she would be able to farm enough of the strike to bring up her eighth ODI hundred, and with 12 runs required for the win and Devine not out on 88, she smashed two sixes against Charlie Dean to seal the deal.

Sophie Devine hits one of four sixes during her unbeaten century.View image in fullscreen

England captain Heather Knight described the result as “frustrating” and said that her team had not been at their best during the ODI leg of the tour, despite winning the series 2-1. “We’ve got a bit of reflection to do,” she said. “We only batted in five ODIs last year so we’re still learning and trying to find the right tempo.”

The ODI series result means England have leapfrogged into third place in the ICC Championship, overtaking New Zealand and Pakistan – an important step towards automatic qualification for the 50-over World Cup in India next year.

England also comfortably won the preceding T20 series 4-1, a triumph which will feel particularly sweet given that it was achieved largely without the services of their two best players, Nat Sciver-Brunt and Sophie Ecclestone, who missed the first three matches due to a clash with the Women’s Premier League in India.

Coach Jon Lewis will also feel confident that he is one step closer to nailing down his starting XI for the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in September, after Maia Bouchier unexpectedly beat out competition from Tammy Beaumont and Sophia Dunkley to secure the opening spot.

Though the 25-year-old Bouchier made her England debut in September 2021, she had previously struggled to hold down a permanent place in the team against strong competition. But with Lewis pushing Dunkley down the order and apparently discarding Beaumont (again), Bouchier chose the optimum moment to shine, striking 91 off 56 balls in the fourth match – her highest ever score in T20 cricket – and taking home the player of the series crown.

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Heather Knight and Amy Jones have found important form with the bat, while off-spinner Charlie Dean made history in Wellington by becoming the fastest woman to achieve the milestone of 50 ODI wickets. The fact that it took her just 26 matches is remarkable given how often she has played third fiddle to Sophie Ecclestone and Sarah Glenn. With World Cups on the horizon in Bangladesh and India, England will see her as a crucial cog in their attack now more than ever.

Dean also provides important stability with the bat: her 42 not out saved England from a certain loss in the first ODI after they had collapsed to 79 for six chasing 207 and her calm, composed approach could teach the middle-order a thing or two. Because, despite recording two series wins, England’s recklessness has not entirely disappeared. The most embarrassing of their multiple collapses came in the third T20, which they somehow conspired to lose despite needing just 33 runs from 36 balls with eight wickets in hand.

Up next are series against Pakistan in May and New Zealand in June – England’s final chance to figure out how to successfully tread the line between Lewis’s “inspire and entertain” mantra and rash batting, ahead of the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh. For now, though, the jury on Jonball is still out.

Source: theguardian.com