There couldn’t have been more than 500 people at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore for the Group A match of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2016 between New Zealand Women and South Africa Women on Saturday (March 26), but it was clear from the very outset as to who they were rooting for.
The minute Suzie Bates’s team walked out on to the field for the national anthems, there were chants of ‘New Zealand! New Zealand!’ and the cheers for Bates, Rachel Priest and Sophie Devine were even louder. The trio didn’t disappoint, each playing an important hand in their team’s comprehensive seven-wicket win.
Priest and Bates shared a 57-run partnership to lay the foundation for New Zealand’s chase of 100 after Devine and Leigh Kasperek had ripped through the South African lineup to dismiss them for 99.
In pursuit of a relatively small target, New Zealand’s opening pair came out all guns blazing, smashing 57 runs in in 8.1 overs before Bates was sent back for a 25-ball 29 when Mignon du Preez, the South African captain, held on to a screamer at point off the bowling of Masabata Klaas. Priest, who started the run flow, followed a couple of overs later when Dane van Niekerk, the legspinner, trapped her in front of the stumps after a run-a-ball 28.
With New Zealand 72 for 2 in the 11th over, the result looked a formality, but South Africa seemed to have some fight left in them and having seen the back of the openers, their fielding lifted, for a while at least.
Marizanne Kapp dismissed Sara McGlashan for 5, and Devine survived a couple of run-out scares before she went on to add the finishing touches. A couple of cut shots past backward point and a slog sweep for six over long-on later, New Zealand were home and dry in 14.3 overs. Devine was unbeaten on 27 off 17 balls with three fours and one six. And, like their male counterparts, New Zealand Women had gone through from the group stages with an all-win record.
Having elected to field, New Zealand’s energy and enthusiasm in the field left South Africa frustrated. They dived and slided to stop some cracking shots from Trisha Chetty and van Niekerk, the openers. Van Niekerk tried to break free by playing some exquisite strokes off the bowling of Morna Nielsen, but the left-arm spinner got the better of her when she was castled for 18. Chetty, who was struggling to find the gaps, was dismissed a couple of overs later when she attempted to slog Kasperek and was caught at long-on by Bates.
At 26 for 2 in seven overs, things weren’t looking bright for South Africa, but du Preez and Kapp attempted to resurrect the innings. A 19-run stand, however, was all they could manage, before the captain, who looked all at sea against Erin Bermingham, was trapped plumb in front of her stumps for 10.
Kapp, who was short of runs coming into this match, looked solid at one end, but New Zealand continued to chip away at the wickets. Searching for ways to score, Dinesha Devnarain was the next to go for 9, when she missed a straight ball from Bates and was out lbw.
When Kapp attempted to lift the scoring rate she holed out to Sara McGlashan at long-off on 22 to give Bermingham her second wicket.
After that, a 21-run stand between Lizelle Lee and Chloe Tryon, and a six off the bat of Tryon was all South Africa had to cheer about as Devine produced an inspired 19th over where she scalped three wickets. First, she had Tryon caught at long on for 12; Sune Luus fell next delivery when Priest held a great catch behind the stumps; and two balls later she castled Shabnim Ismail.
South Africa’s last five wickets fell for nine runs as they were dismissed in 19.3 overs. Devine and Kasperek were New Zealand’s best bowlers with three wickets apiece, with Bermingham chipping in with two wickets.
By virtue of their win, New Zealand topped Group A, becoming the first team to qualify for the semifinals.