Apart from winning the 2000 World Cup at home, New Zealand have always fumbled. © Getty Images

Apart from winning the 2000 World Cup at home, New Zealand have always fumbled. © Getty Images

New Zealand’s 186-run loss against India in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 game in Derby on Saturday (July 15) was another addition to a growing list of the team failing in big matches. They needed to win to qualify for the semifinals, but were bundled out of 79 in a chase of 266.

It was a big shock considering they were one of the pre-tournament favourites. They needed to come good once against one of the big teams, which they did not. They lost to Australia, England and India poorly, but dominated Sri Lanka, Windies and Pakistan. They were unlucky that their second game against South Africa was washed out, but who knows whether that result would have gone in their favour.

Apart from winning the 2000 World Cup at home, New Zealand have always fumbled. Last year they topped their group in the Women’s World Twenty20, but lost to Windies in the semifinal.

“You have hit the nail on the head,” said Suzie Bates, the captain, on being asked why New Zealand haven’t delivered in must-win games over the years. “We haven’t performed in the biggest matches, and that has happened on a number of occasions. We have worked on it as a group and we have talked about that, but (there is a difference) in talking about it and actually doing it. I can’t really answer why that is the case. We believe we have a team that can compete and win these tournaments.”

One of the reasons they lost was that they were unable to maintain the pressure after reducing India to 21 for 2 within the first Power Play. It was the same issue against England too. They also dropped four catches of varying difficulty levels. The costliest was that of Veda Krishnamurthy on the midwicket boundary. Veda scored 38 runs after that to finish on 70 off 45 balls.

“There were a few catches we didn’t go for during that innings,” reflected Bates. “I am not sure what it is but we have talked about committing 100 percent as a fielding unit. It has been below par for the New Zealand side in this tournament. We have to look at our performances after this World Cup. We haven’t performed anywhere near our capabilities.”

New Zealand dropped Erin Bermingham and Holly Huddleston, and brought in Maddy Green and Hannah Rowe. While Rowe bowled well for two wickets, Green’s inclusion meant that New Zealand were a bowler short. It exposed them even more as Amelia Kerr, the 16-year-old legspinner, had a bad day.

Bates, however, defended her decision. “We didn’t think we were bowler short. We went with six bowlers with Amy Satterthwaite as well. Against England we had an extra bowler and thought we should have an extra batter for this game,” she said. “I stick by that decision. I just don’t think we had the bowling partnerships. We had the right bowlers out there, we could not back it up on the field at times either.

"We had them under pressure early on with the ball, but the way Mithali batted with players pitching in around her; they put on a score that was going to be tough," conceded Bates. © Getty Images

“We had them under pressure early on with the ball, but the way Mithali batted with players pitching in around her; they put on a score that was going to be tough,” conceded Bates. © Getty Images

“Credit to India. We had them under pressure early on with the ball, but the way Mithali (Raj, who made a century) batted with players pitching in around her; they put on a score that was going to be tough. We didn’t perform with the bat at all, it is hard to stomach at the moment,” she added, pinpointing at the batters failing to take responsibility for the second game in a row. “They were able to build partnerships and we could not break away. Leigh Kasperek bowled well and Hannah Rowe performed well. To keep them to 265, I was not disappointed at half-time. I knew it was going to be a big run chase, but to bat like that in a pressure match is really disappointing.”

Bates conceded that New Zealand failed to cross the first hurdle they had set themselves. “After any World Cup, there is always going to be a review on how the team performed. We knew it was tough to get into the semifinal. It was going to be the biggest hurdle and we haven’t done that,” she continued. “We definitely haven’t reached the expectations we had as a team, and we will look really closely what we could have done differently.”

Bates has been New Zealand’s captain since 2011. This performance might prompt New Zealand to look for a leadership change. She, however, was not looking far ahead, and urged the team to stay strong.

“I thought I was going to have another week here. I hoped to have another week,” she said. ”I have the Super League (in England) coming up. I am going to take a bit of a break. I have got a few family and friends here. I am sure the team is going to be hurting, not just today but for a few weeks reflecting on the tournament.

“In saying that, we have a really good bunch of girls. We have had lot of fun,” she added. “In these tournaments, when you don’t reach your goal it is disappointing. But we will stay strong, and we have got talented group and some exciting talent coming in. The future of White Ferns, I believe, is in the right hands.”