Sampson and Sthalekar keep series alive
Australia 211 for 6 (Sthalekar 69, A Blackwell 62) beat New Zealand 205 (Tiffen 41, Sampson 5-30) by 6 runs
Emma Sampson's five-wicket haul put Australia on track for a tight success that sent the Rose Bowl to a deciding fifth game in Lincoln on Sunday. New Zealand slipped six runs short of Australia's 211 for 6, which was set up by half-centuries to Alex Blackwell and Lisa Sthalekar.
The hosts, who were looking to seal a 3-1 series victory, were in a strong position when they reached 107 for 2, but they lost 5 for 37 to severely disrupt the chase. Haidee Tiffen (41) and Sara McGlashan (39) were the key wickets for Australia following a stand of 84 before Sampson, Ellyse Perry and Sthalekar caused the collapse.
However, New Zealand's position of 144 for 7 did not mean the game was over and Rachel Priest (25) gained support from Helen Watson (12) before Sophie Devine continued the attack. They needed 15 to win from the final over, but when Devine, who skipped to 16 off 10 balls, became Perry's second wicket Australia celebrated. Sampson's 5 for 30 crushed her previous best figures of 2 for 19 while Perry and Sthalekar each claimed two wickets.
Sthalekar enjoyed a productive day after her 123-run stand with Blackwell set up Australia's total. Batting at No. 3, Sthalekar top scored with 69 while Blackwell compiled 62 before useful contributions came from Jodie Purves and Kate Blackwell.