Beneath blue summer skies, New Zealand captain Suzie Bates won the toss and elected to bat first on a hard, flat pitch that seemed ideal for batting.
Following on from their unbroken 142-run partnership in the recent WT20I between these sides on Wednesday, Bates and opening partner Jess Watkin dominated the Irish bowling again putting on 172 runs for the first stand – the second highest opening partnership in women’s ODI cricket for New Zealand.
Bates’ attacking flair was on full display as she played a glorious range of shots all around the wicket, scoring at a strike rate of over 150 throughout. Watkin, making her WODI debut, was not to be outdone, providing support to Bates by ticking the scoreboard over at a run-a-ball.
The crowd sensed that only a special piece of cricket skill would break the partnership, and indeed that came to pass. Watkin, on 62 (59 balls; 10 x fours) pulled a ball from Ireland’s Gaby Lewis out towards the square-leg boundary where substitute fielder Rachel Delaney took a low, running one-handed catch.
Despite the breakthrough, relief did not come for Ireland as first-drop batter Maddy Green joined her skipper and the pair proceeded to put on 116 runs from 67 balls.
The partnership looked unbreakable until Bates, after just bringing up her 150, was beaten in flight by 17-year old leg-spinner Cara Murray and wicketkeeper Mary Waldron had the bails off in a flash with Bates outside the crease. Bates’ tally of 151 (off 94 balls; 24 x fours, 2 x sixes) was her second highest innings in this format and the 10th century of her international career. During her innings she also created New Zealand cricket history by surpassing Debbie Hockley as New Zealand’s highest run scorer in Women’s ODIs.
Green continued on apace and brought up her maiden international century, eventually falling to a good outfield catch by Gaby Lewis for 121 off 77 balls (15 x fours, 1 x six).
The final New Zealand total of 491-4 from 50 overs represented the record highest team score in ODI history (women or men).
The Ireland response got off to a shaky start losing both openers, Waldron and Una Raymond-Hoey, early to the pace of 21-year old Hannah Rowe.
Lewis and captain Laura Delany set about restoring stability to the innings, however Lewis – who was following on from her innings of 61 in the T20I on Wednesday – had her promising innings of 20 runs (26 balls; 4 x fours) cut short by a great in-field catch by Kate Ebrahim.
Delany and Jenny Gray batted well together and developed a solid-looking partnership of 63, however after the departure of the skipper for 37 (65 balls; 4 x fours) the remaining wickets fell in short order and Ireland’s innings finished at 144-9 from 35.3 overs (Isobel Joyce, who sustained an injury in the field earlier in the day, was unable to bat).
The New Zealand bowling unit put in a highly-polished performance, led by a career-best 4-17 by off-spinner Leigh Kasperek.
Speaking after the game, Ireland Women’s Head Coach Aaron Hamilton reflected on the performance:
“It was a tough day in the field. We have a young group and I think they really saw what it was like to play international cricket today. The thing the team can take out of today is how one of the top sides in the world are so consistent, and that they keep going right to the end. It’s something that we could learn from.”
“We have the day off tomorrow – we’ve told them to have a think about the performance over night, then forget about it. We’ve got to be more consistent with the ball. As I said, we have a young group but if we can become more consistent and take our chances, then we’ll come out of this fine.”
The second WODI between the two sides is at The Hills Cricket Club on Sunday.
NEW ZEALAND 491-4 (50 overs; S Bates 151, M Green 121, A Kerr 81*; C Murray 2-119)
IRELAND 144-9 (35.3 overs; L Delany 37, J Gray 35; L Kasperek 4-17)
New Zealand won by 347 runs