ICC Women's World Cup 2017
Aussies out to spoil Bates' 100th party
NZ captain set for ODI milestone but Australia won't come bearing gifts in vital WWC17 clash
Laura Jolly in Bristol
2 July 2017, 05:04 PM AEST
Australia will be out to spoil New Zealand skipper Suzie Bates' party when the trans-Tasman rivals meet in a crucial Women's World Cup group match in Bristol on Sunday.
The match is Bates' 100th one-day international for the White Ferns – her second attempt at the milestone after New Zealand's previous group match against South Africa was washed out.
She heads into the match off the back of a century in New Zealand's opening win over Sri Lanka and her wicket will be key for the Australians as they attempt to maintain their unbeaten run in the tournament.
"I hope (we spoil the party), I certainly won't be attending the party," Australia batter Elyse Villani laughed on Saturday.
"She's had a phenomenal career and I'm sure it will continue for a long time, she's been a fantastic player for them but we won't be gifting her a win for her 100th ODI, that's for sure."
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Australia will be drawing on their strong record against New Zealand, in what will be their first chance to properly assess where they are at compared to another tournament favourite.
The trans-Tasman sides are very familiar foes, having met in two ODI series in the last two years while they also played an unofficial warm-up game in Southampton last month.
The Southern Stars have had the better of the White Ferns, winning both Rose Bowl series 2-1 and cruising to a 46-run win in Southampton, but matches between the teams are generally close fought contests and Villani is expecting more of the same on Sunday.
"There are no secrets between the two teams, but the most important thing is not thinking about them that much and making sure we're working on the things we need to do well and executing our plans," she said.
"Every time we play them it's a fresh game and we always have a close competition between them. There's a few games that could have gone the other way.
"We're confident in ourselves as a team but we're definitely not overly confident. We just try and take each game as it comes and making sure we're doing what we need to do well."
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Bates, whose 106no against Sri Lanka moved her to equal third on the overall list of women's ODI century makers, said the White Ferns were looking forward to getting back on the park after more than a week since their opening match of the tournament, which was also played in Bristol.
"It feels like we haven't played in a a while, so we've had a bit of time off," Bates said.
"We enjoy being in Bristol, we've had a couple of days of training but we're definitely ready to play some cricket after that rained out match. It has been a while out of playing.
"We've got to play as well as we can to compete with a really good Australian side."
Bates believes her team will need to score at least 250 if batting first against Australia, given the flat track at Bristol's County Ground and the strength of the in-form Southern Stars batting line-up.
"The Bristol wicket has proven to be pretty flat track, there's lots of runs to be scored with really fast outfield," the 29-year-old said.
"A score of 250-plus these days in women's cricket is what's needed, but you still have to bowl well against some of the sides to defend that.
"So anything above that is really pleasing, but tomorrow at the end of the day we'll go out there with bat and ball and score as many as we can and whatever that is, we'll try and defend it."
Left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen bowled during training on Saturday and appears set to return for Australia on Sunday, having been rested for the clash against Sri Lanka due to a niggle.
In another promising sign, leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington returned to the nets, having been unavailable for the opening two matches due to a finger injury.
Australia currently sit on top of the table, level with India on two wins apiece, while New Zealand – having split the points with the Proteas after their Leicester wash-out – are breathing down their necks in third spot.
"We're pretty relaxed, which is good because that's when we play our best cricket," Villani said of the mood in the Australian camp ahead of the crucial clash.
"The girls are all ready to go, we had another god training session here today so we're feeling really relaxed and ready to go tomorrow."
Australia's trans-Tasman showdown with New Zealand will be televised live on Fox Sports, live streamed through the Nine Network's 9Now service, while listeners can also tune into ABC Grandstand.
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.