The White Ferns have missed out on making the final of the Twenty20 Quadrangular Series after losing to Australia by six wickets at Taunton Vale, England.
White Ferns captain Aimee Watkins won the toss and opted to bat with her side posting 146 for six. Australia made 147 for four off 17.5 overs in reply.
Watkins and Suzie Bates got the team off to a promising start with a 52 run opening stand. However, the loss of Bates for a run-a-ball 23 sparked a mini collapse that saw three wickets fall for three runs, including Watkins who struck 29 off 22 deliveries.
It was Liz Perry, backing up from a match winning 48 against India, who again steadied the innings. Swift running between the wickets was the highlight of Perry’s unbeaten 50 off 37 and she was well supported by Nicola Browne who chimed in with 28 not out off 18 to close out the innings.
Australian opener Leah Poulton led the run chase with an aggressive 61 off 43 at the top off the innings and was part of an 82 run partnership for the second wicket with Jess Cameron who hit a brisk 47 off 37.
White Ferns medium pacer Bates fought back with two quick wickets with the score on 94 and pace bowler Lea Tahuhu picked up Poulton late, but experienced Shelley Nitschke kept her cool with 23 not out to guide Australia to victory.
After the match captain Watkins said: “"The ground had a fast outfield and the wicket was good. We thought that we had enough. But obviously it wasn't. I think it was a par score on that pitch. But Australia took the opportunities that came their way and put away the bad balls. They chased down the target well."
Watkins also praised Liz Perry for her second successive knock under pressure, this time totaling 50. "It was a good back-up performance from Liz. She came up with another good performance for us today. I hope that continues tomorrow in the play-off and then onto the 50-over competition."
Watkins believed that the win over India in the league match would have no bearing on the third place play-off.
"Obviously we will take confidence from that win. But it does not count tomorrow, because it will be a brand new day. It will be a fresh start because of the nature of twenty20 cricket. If some of their players have a good day, then they can take the game away from us. But I am confident about our side."
The White Ferns will play India in the third place play off at 10.45am Monday 27 June local time, 9.45pm NZ time.
Quadrangular Series in England Schedule
23/06/2011 White Ferns vs England Women - Twenty-20
County Ground, Chelmsford
Result: England won by 8 wickets
25/06/2011 White Ferns vs Indian Women - Twenty-20
Clifton College Close Ground
Result: White Ferns won by 25 runs
26/06/2011 White Ferns vs Australian Women - Twenty-20
Taunton Vale, Taunton
Result: Australia won by 6 wickets
27/06/2011 – Twenty20 Final
30/06/2011 White Ferns vs Australian Women - ODI
Queen's Park, Chesterfield
2/07/2011 White Ferns vs England Women - ODI
County Ground, Derby
5/07/2011 White Ferns vs Indian Women - ODI
John Walker's Ground, Southgate
7/07/2011 – One-Day International Final