|Third one-day international, Uptonsteel County Ground, Leicester|
|England 178 (48.3 overs): Brunt 49*, Tahuhu 5-38, Penfold 2-48|
|New Zealand 181-7 (45.5 overs): Green 70*, Brunt 4-22|
|New Zealand won by three wickets; England lead series 2-1|
Lea Tahuhu starred with the ball for New Zealand as England slipped to a three-wicket defeat in the third game of the five-match one-day international series in Leicester.
Pace bowler Tahuhu took 5-38 – her first five-wicket haul in ODI cricket – as England collapsed to 59-6 and 102-8 after being asked to bat first.
It took an unbeaten 49 from Katherine Brunt and her 53-run stand with number 10 Kate Cross to help England up to 178, as they were bowled out with nine balls to spare.
Brunt then led the charge with the new ball, taking 4-22 as New Zealand stuttered to 94-4, and regular wickets left the tourists needing 29 runs from the final 10 overs with only four wickets left.
However, Maddy Green’s unbeaten 70 was the mainstay of the innings as the White Ferns snuck across the line with 25 balls remaining.
England could have wrapped up the series with two games to spare, but paid for a poor start, with Brunt’s brilliance unable to make up for their lack of top-order runs.
Tahuhu was excellent for the White Ferns, while fellow seamer Molly Penfold picked up 2-48 on her international debut.
New Zealand’s stumble to victory showed how low they are on confidence, but Green kept a calm head to guide them to only their second win in their past 20 ODIs.
It was fitting, though, that it was Tahuhu who hit the winning runs with a straight six down the ground.
The fourth match takes place at Derby on Thursday at 13:00 BST.
Tahuhu & Penfold combine to torment England
It feels strange that this was Tahuhu’s maiden ODI five-for, given that this was her 73rd appearance for the White Ferns.
Her participation in this England tour was in doubt after she needed a trio of operations on a precancerous mole on her left foot. The three surgeries included a skin graft from her thigh to her foot, which led to what she described as a mentally demanding eight-week lay-off.
The 30-year-old used the trip as motivation to recover, particularly after missing the February-March home series against England with a hamstring problem. She has a good support base in England – she and wife Amy Satterthwaite are travelling with their young daughter Grace alongside them.
Tahuhu has always been quick but now there is the accuracy. All but one of her wickets were lbw or bowled, the full and straight tactic paying off.
Openers Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield-Hill were trapped on the crease by her pace, captain Heather Knight edged a tempting delivery behind, and Sophia Dunkley played all around her pad and was bowled.
Tahuhu celebrated her fifth wicket – bowling Charlie Dean – with an outstretched arm and a yell, before she was embraced by Satterthwaite and her other team-mates.
Also doing the damage was London-born Penfold, a 20-year-old who has played only one season of domestic cricket but has attracted attention with her raw pace.
Much as with Tahuhu in her early career, the pace is there but the radar can sometimes stray. But when it clicked, she troubled England. Her first ODI wicket came as she slipped through Amy Jones’ defences to bowl her for 20, before a brilliant diving catch by Lauren Down ended Danni Wyatt’s stay.
In Tahuhu and Penfold, New Zealand have two fine fast bowlers that can trouble teams. But they will need the support of their batting line-up as they build towards their home World Cup.
England stumble with the bat – again
Brunt is a wholehearted cricketer and the way she curbed her natural attacking instinct to dig England out of a hole was impressive, but this total was never enough.
England were missing a batter after opting to rest Natalie Sciver which meant there was no-one to stem the middle-order collapse.
The Brunt-Cross partnership held up New Zealand’s push and perhaps took a bit of confidence out of them, especially given the strong position they let slip at Worcester on Sunday.
But this run chase should not have been as difficult as the tourists made it look, although Brunt and Cross’ accuracy made flowing strokeplay difficult.
For a while, Satterthwaite guided New Zealand, but her cheap dismissal, caught as she tried to loft Charlie Dean down the ground, was disappointing. Skipper Sophie Devine also fell cheaply, bowled by Brunt for three to leave the White Ferns struggling.
Green played unobtrusively, simply taking the singles on offer and playing low-risk shots. Tahuhu, meanwhile, looked as though she wanted to get the game over, hitting three fours and one six in her 18-ball 19 to take the side home.
‘New Zealand came at us hard’ – what they said
England World Cup winner Alex Hartley on BBC Test Match Special: “You reflect on games, and games like that where you get absolutely hammered, you learn from the most. The batting unit will go away and learn from today and they’ll know that they’ve gone wrong.”
England captain Heather Knight: “It was too few runs. We showed fight with the bat and ball. I’m not too sure what is going on with the batting. It is probably us getting out rather than them getting us out.
“What a warrior Katherine Brunt was. She shepherded the tail and she was brilliant with the ball. We’re losing wickets in clusters, maybe a few tired shots, but I thought Lea Tahuhu bowled really well and put us under pressure. They came at us quite hard.”
New Zealand captain Sophie Devine: “It is nice to finally get over the line. It was probably tighter than we have liked in the end, but we showed some resilience.
“Lea has been a bit like a caged animal. She has really turned a corner, in terms of her accuracy as well. She might not be as quick as she once was, but the smarts are really starting to shine through too.”
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