Megan Schutt says she has relished the pressure of being the sole pace bowler included in Australia’s playing XI in their opening two Twenty20 Internationals against New Zealand.
Seamer Schutt was joined by four frontline spinners in the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars line-up in Melbourne and Geelong, with selectors opting for a new-look bowling attack to make the most of the abundance of in-form spinners at their disposal.
The combination of Schutt alongside leg-spinners Kristen Beams and Amanda-Jade Wellington, off-spinner Molly Strano and left-armer Jess Jonassen has proved a useful one for the hosts in both outings to date.
They restricted the White Ferns to 8-111 at the MCG and after New Zealand’s openers made a strong start in Geelong, racing to 0-20 after two overs, they fought back to keep the tourists to 9-101 after their 20 overs.
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With the pace talents of Lauren Cheatle, Rene Farrell and Sarah Aley also at Australia’s disposal, Schutt may find herself with some allies on Wednesday, but she won’t be fazed if the hosts name an unchanged attack.
"I feel like I'm a real fast bowler now,” Schutt joked at Adelaide Oval on Tuesday. “It's obviously an honour to be the only pace bowler picked, but it's probably a good pressure to have on my shoulders.
"We're bowling OK at the moment and we just need to keep doing what we're doing.”
The series sits level at 1-1 heading into Wednesday’s decider at Adelaide Oval, after Australia suffered a rain-marred eight-run defeat at Geelong’s Kardinia Park on Sunday, their top-order stumbling in pursuit of New Zealand’s below-par total, which became a revised target of 70 from 13 overs after a delay for wet weather.
Schutt said the batters would aim to show greater intent with the bat as they pursue a series win.
"That was a disappointing loss in Geelong in some pretty terrible weather," she said.
"(We just need to) show a little bit more intent in the first few overs, I think the Powerplay was what let us down last game.
"Obviously there were still a lot of positives to come out of it but it's always a close game against the Kiwis so hopefully we can just do the little things right."
Schutt’s comments echoed those made by Australia captain Meg Lanning, who said the Southern Stars batters, including herself, needed to nullify in-form White Ferns fast bowler Lea Tahuhu, who leaked just 11 runs during an outstanding opening four-over spell on Sunday.
“We let New Zealand dictate too much,” Lanning noted on Monday. “Once we came out after the break, even though we were in an okay position, we just couldn’t score from enough balls and we were looking for the boundary too much.
“Tahuhu’s a very good bowler and it’s just about executing a bit better against her, getting off strike and putting the bad balls away.
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“It’s something for me personally, I’ll have to look to try and do a bit better against her, but it’s also something for the rest of the team as well.”
Australia will be looking to end the T20 series on a high note to take momentum into their upcoming one-day international series on the other side of the Tasman.
The Southern Stars have just a one-day break on Thursday before they board a plane for Auckland, where the first ODI will be played on Sunday.