New Zealand were minus one key ingredient when they lost their Rose Bowl one-day international series to Australia earlier this year: Sophie Devine.
The explosive allrounder was missing in action due to a dislocated thumb suffered while playing for the Adelaide Strikers in January, but the 27-year-old is back and is one player Australia will be firmly focused on nullifying in Sunday’s crucial Women’s World Cup group match.
Someone who knows better than most how damaging Devine can be is her Strikers teammate and Australian pace bowler Megan Schutt.
The South Australian had a perfect pitch-side view when her Kiwi teammate took apart the Hobart Hurricanes in a Rebel Women’s Big Bash League game last Boxing Day, smashing eight sixes on her way to 103 not out from just 48 balls.
"She brings a bit of firepower," Schutt said of Devine in Bristol on Friday. "It’s nice being on the same team as her during the Big Bash and not on the other side, so hopefully she doesn’t do to me in a game what she can do in the nets."
"I’ll just try and bowl slower balls (to her), I’m not giving my game tactics away but I’m not a quick bowler as it is I don’t reckon, so I’ll just try and take the pace off because she’s just so powerful."
Schutt will also be hoping for a repeat of the treatment she handed Suzie Bates when the teams met in an unofficial practice match in Southampton last month, when she trapped the White Ferns captain lbw with the first ball of the innings.
Australia and New Zealand are familiar foes, having met in two ODI series in the last two years, in addition to that Southampton warm-up.
The Southern Stars have claimed the upper hand in most of those encounters, winning both one-day series 2-1 and walking away with a 46-run win in the warm-up, but Schutt is expecting another close contest on Sunday.
"We’re expecting big thing every time we play them, I don’t think we ever blow each other out of the park," the Australian said.
"So hopefully it’s a good game. They’ve got some really good players in that team and if they fire it’ll be a cracking match."
"It’s a massive game, every game is a must win in a World Cup."
After a tough day in the field on Thursday, when Australia’s attack were single-handedly taken apart by Sri Lanka’s Chamari Athapaththu on her way to an unbeaten 178, Schutt knows precisely what she will be working on as she prepares to tackle the White Ferns.
"Probably some yorkers, I think. I know that’s what they’re doing for me, there were a few missed lengths against Athapaththu so we’ll work on that.
"I haven’t been hit for a six over my head for a while so I was a bit surprised, but she just hits the ball so hard and played some really clean shots, so good on her."
With two wins from their opening two matches, Australia are keen to keep their winning momentum going through the hectic seven-game group stage, with Schutt saying spirits in the Southern Stars camp were high.
"It’s really good. We’ve been having get togethers after each game and I think it sums it up, everyone is so happy and cheery.
"For me the photos after the game (on Thursday) with the smiles on our faces says it all."
Women's World Cup Guide
Australia World Cup squad: Sarah Aley, Kristen Beams, Alex Blackwell (vc), Nicole Bolton, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Meg Lanning (c), Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington.