White Ferns on brink of series win

The White Ferns are one win away from a rare women's one-day cricket series success against Australia after edging their rivals by four runs in Whangarei today.

The White Ferns defended their 218 for seven by holding the world champions to 214 for nine in the second match of the Rose Bowl series at Cobham Oval.

That gave New Zealand a 2-0 lead in the five-match series, which they can now wrap up with another victory in the third outing, in Hamilton on Friday.

New Zealand last beat Australia in a series in 1998 but have quickly taken the initiative this week after winning the opening game by two wickets in Whangarei on Sunday.

On that occasions they chased down a moderate target, today they posted a respectable total and defended it.

Australia were in strife after the early loss of openers Shelley Nitschke and Alex Blackwell, but bounded back into contention on the back of a superb stand for the third wicket by skipper Karen Rolton and Lisa Sthalekar.

These two took the game by the scruff of the neck to put on a partnership of 113 as New Zealand captain Haidee Tiffen was forced to rotate her bowlers to keep the runs in check.

They were only parted when Kate Pulford pulled off a brilliant catch at square leg to remove Rolton for 62, scored off 86 balls and featuring 10 fours.

Sthalekar later departed for 72, with just four boundaries off 116 deliveries, when she was bowled by Suzie Bates, who ended with figures of three for 40 off 10 overs.

Australia were then 191 for five in the 45th over and the momentum had swung as the White Ferns increased the pressure.

Earlier, the New Zealand total had been built around a responsible half-century from Tiffen.

Tiffen provided the substance with a thoughtful 64 not out from 103 balls.

She struck just three fours in more than two hours at the crease but rotated the strike intelligently as Amy Satterthwaite and then Lucy Doolan leant support.

Satterthwaite, who scored an unbeaten 49 to guide her team to a two-wicket win in the opening match, this time chipped in with a run-a-ball 20.

Doolan, batting at No 9, then upped the tempo further by hitting 29 not out off just 17 balls.

All but one of the New Zealand batsmen made starts, with Bates the best of the top order with 28.

The wickets were shared around by the Australians, of whom Sthalekar was the best with two for 40 off a full complement of 10 overs.

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