A fine all-round performance by Haidee Tiffen was one of the highlights today as the New Zealand women's team opened the five match series against their England counterparts with a seven-wicket victory at Fitzherbert Park, Palmerston North.
Twenty year-old medium-pacer Tiffen took 2/19 from ten overs and scored 42 not out as New Zealand took 45.1 overs to pass England's fifty-over total of 157 for nine.
Clare Connor's first act as England captain in a full international was to lose the toss to Emily Drumm, who sent the visitors into bat in any event. England made a crucial change to the batting order which performed so dismally against Australia, with Karen Smithies demoted to number five and Claire Taylor brought into the team as a specialist opening batsman. The change did little good however, England finding themselves at 22 for 3 in the tenth over.
England were just 52 for 4 at the end of the twenty-fifth over, Smithies having made 18 from 61 deliveries when she was run out as the result of a dreadful mixup with Charlotte Edwards. It was Edwards who went on to be England's top score with 37 before holing out to an Emily Drumm leg-break, Kathryn Ramel taking an excellent catch sliding along the ground at long-on.
With England struggling against at tight New Zealand attack, a total of 130- 140 seemed likely before a late surge of sorts saw them reach 157. No batsmam other than Edwards reached twenty, a matter that will be a continuing cause of concern for the England camp.
Among the New Zealand bowlers Haidee Tiffen and Rachel Pullar each took 2/19 from their ten overs, with Katrina Keenan claiming 3/34.
New Zealand started their run chase slowly at the hands of new ball bowlers Clare Taylor and Lucy Pearson, managing only 16 in their first ten overs. Debbie Hockley was lucky when on 5 to be given not out by umpire Evan Watkin to an apparent nick off Taylor to wicketkeeper Cassar. The former New Zealand captain took 49 deliveries to reach double figures, though picked up as the change bowlers were brought into the attack.
Hockley was eventually dismissed for 40 (from 99 balls) before being run out, her batting partner Emily Drumm calling yes then no. New Zealand at 72 for 2 were still well behind the required run-rate for victory with Hockley's departure.
The turning point for New Zealand came in the 34th over when Drumm hit Melissa Reynard for 4, 4 and 3 from successive deliveries to bring up the team 100.
Drumm made 45 before falling to a soft dismissal off Taylor, but in the next over, Tiffen went on the attack, lofting Connor for six over the mid-wicket boundary. When Tiffen cracked Reynard to the cover boundary at the start of the 46th over, she brought up the New Zealand victory, and finished as the third New Zealand batter to reach the forties - something no England player could achieve.
For England, Pearson (1/26) and Taylor (1/29) were the only wicket-takers, while Reynard (0/41 from 7.1) was expensive, as she had been in Australia. Left-arm spinner Dawn Holden, who had performed so well on the Australian leg of the tour, was missing from this match with a calf injury.
The second game of the five-match series will be played at the Basin Reserve, Wellington, on Tuesday.