New Zealand Women are now just one victory away from joining Australia and the West Indies at the top of the ICC Women’s Championship table
In record-breaking style, the New Zealand White Ferns have crushed Sri Lanka Women by 188 runs today to claim the trophy in their historic inaugural five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka, with two games in hand — thanks to a New Zealand record opening stand that featured Rachel Priest’s second ODI century in just three games.
Thirty-year-old Priest, who came into the series never having scored a ton for the White Ferns belted four consecutive fours off Inoka Ranaweera to go to 98*, then breezed past the three figure mark as she stormed on to an explosive partnership of 196 with captain Suzie Bates, who had elected to bat on a sunny Bert Sutcliffe Oval.
When Bates fell on 80 (in 77 balls, 10 x 4) in the 32nd over — so tantalisingly close to the 200 marker, Priest, on 113* at the time, simply put her foot down en route to a stellar new ODI career best of 157 off 146 balls.
Unleashing a torrent of 23 boundaries (remarkably without one six); the powerful Wellingtonian had threatened to eclipse Bates’s New Zealand record for the highest individual White Ferns score in an ODI.
She fell at the death just 11 runs shy of Bates’ mark of 168 — set against Pakistan in 2009 to settle for the White Ferns’ second-highest score in One-Day International history.
It was the fifth time the pair had combined in a 100-run stand in One-Day Internationals — another New Zealand White Ferns record. It was also their third 50-plus opening partnership in succession, a feat that the team hadn't achieved since 2003. The previous record opening stand had been 180 by Barb Bevege & Lesley Murdoch, set at Eden Park in 1981/82.
Taking it all in on the sidelines as the White Ferns ran away to 326/5 — their fourth highest ODI total in history — was former New Zealand women legend Debbie Hockley, on her birthday. It seemed a fitting touch to have the batting legend present, the side having posted 300 just three wickets down.
Faced with a daunting ask of more than a run a ball, Sri Lanka’s plight had worsened by drinks, by which time they were already three down. Regular breakthroughs saw them put away for 138 in 41.5 overs, Canterbury spinner Erin Bermingham taking 3-16 off 7.5 overs as the White Ferns nailed down a 3-0 lead in the five-match Series.
The match was the last in the Series to carry ICC Women’s Championship points and New Zealand Women are now just one victory away from joining Australia and the West Indies at the top of the ICC Women’s Championship table.