New Zealand register first win on back of Bates’ masterclass

New Zealand registered first win © Getty Images

Suzie Bates’ unbeaten half-century helped New Zealand beat South Africa in their first match of the ongoing Commonwealth Games on Saturday (July 30). The match saw Sophie Devine become the first New Zealand player to take 100 wickets in T20Is and her team grabbed two crucial points in Group B.

South Africa won the toss and opted to bowl first against New Zealand, who were playing their first international match since the ODI World Cup in March 2022.  Izzy Gaze, Eden Carson, and Fran Jonas made their debuts in the shortest format for the White Ferns.  

After two cautious overs in the powerplay, New Zealand’s opening pair of Bates and captain Sophie Devine found their rhythm. Devine clobbered left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba for the first six of the innings in the fifth over.  

The experienced duo added 49 runs as Devine hit yet another six off the last ball of the powerplay. South Africa’s captain Sune Luus introduced Chloe Tryon immediately after the powerplay, and she helped in slowing down the scoring rate of New Zealand. But it didn’t result in a wicket as Bates and Devine took their team to 77 at the halfway stage in the first innings. 

With 99 runs on the board, Mlaba provided South Africa with the much-needed breakthrough. Tryon caught Devine as the New Zealand skipper missed her half-century by two runs. Amelia Kerr joined Bates in the 14th over and immediately took on the opposition’s bowling attack. Bates completed her 22nd half-century in the format in 43 balls to keep her team in the driving seat.

New Zealand smacked 40 runs in the last three overs as Bates scored the highest individual score of the Commonwealth Games (91*) so far. Kerr supported Bates with 20 runs off 16 balls to take New Zealand to 167 for two in the first innings. 

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In the chase, South Africa got off to a shaky start as Hayley Jensen sent Anneke Bosch back in the hut with her fourth ball of the match. The other opener, Tazmin Brits, struggled to score runs against the pace of Lea Tahuhu and Hannah Rowe. South Africa lost Brits in the fourth over, making matters hard for them inside the powerplay. 

Mignon du Preez and Laura Wolvaardt had a tough task in the middle. The pair added 13 runs in the powerplay without losing any wicket. Wolvaardt looked in good touch as she hit the first six of the innings for South Africa. Du Preez at the other end looked threatening, but Kerr ended her knock in the 11th over. Two overs later, Wolvaardt followed suit as South Africa were struggling at 74 for four, and the required run rate was skyrocketing.  

Tryon, known for her hard-hitting batting, showed her class and scored quickfire 39 runs off just 17 balls to keep South Africa in the game. Her run-out at the non-strikers’ end shattered the hopes of the Proteas. Captain Luus’ attempts of late acceleration were not enough as she was dismissed by her counterpart in the penultimate over. Jensen conceded nine runs in the final over as South Africa fell short by 13 runs in the first match of Group B. 

Brief score: New Zealand 167/2 in 20 overs (Suzie Bates 91*, Sophie Devine 48; Nonkululeko Mlaba 1/33) beat South Africa 154/7 in 20 overs (Chloe Tryon 39, Sune Luus 32; Sophie Devine 3/37) by 13 runs