NZ up for challenge in women's T20 series

Sophie Devine thinks the long break between fixtures will work in New Zealand's favour as they attempt to halt a five-match T20 losing streak against Australia.

SOPHIE DEVINE of the Strikers bats during the Women's Big Bash League match between the Melbourne Renegades and the Adelaide Strikers at CitiPower Centre in Melbourne, Australia.
SOPHIE DEVINE of the Strikers bats during the Women's Big Bash League match between the Melbourne Renegades and the Adelaide Strikers at CitiPower Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

With Ellyse Perry's injury comeback on ice, Sophie Devine can sense an ambush as she prepares to lead New Zealand in international cricket's Australian return on Saturday.

New Zealand were bundled out of the Twenty20 World Cup by Australia, who prevailed in a tense run-chase in March before going on to claim another title.

That was just before the coronavirus pandemic struck, putting the 2020 international cricket schedule on hold.

But the trans-Tasman rivals will return for three Twenty20 and three one-day internationals in Brisbane from Saturday, where Devine hopes to end a losing streak in the shortest format that dates to 2017.

"We're on level pegging; it's the side that adapts quickest and gets into the flow ... and I think after two weeks of great training we're in a great position," she said.

"If there's ever a time to knock them over it's probably going to be now."

The sides have already played this week, an unofficial clash on Thursday a unique chance to get an early look at your opponent before a series proper.

Like Devine, Australian captain Meg Lanning admitted they didn't play all their cards in that game but confirmed Perry had not cleared her return-to-play protocols.

"She's got a very good plan in place, everyone's looking after her and once she gets through that she'll be available," she said.

Lanning hasn't settled on her side though, which could include some fresh faces given Belinda Vakarewa's performance with the new ball on Thursday.

Although in Nicola Carey, Delissa Kimmince, Megan Schutt and Annabel Sutherland the captain has no shortage of fast-bowling options.

Sophie Molineux also started her summer impressively, scoring 57 from 60 balls before taking 5-29 in Thursday's trial game.

"Whatever option we go with I'm extremely confident we'll get the job done," Lanning said.

"It'll be tough to get that final 11 picked."

Teams will wear black armbands and share a minute's silence pre-game, dedicated to the late Dean Jones.