World Cup Preview: Will amazing Amelia take New Zealand to another home triumph?

New Zealand will be one of the contenders for the semi-final slot © Getty Images

The last time New Zealand hosted a World Cup, they became the third side in the world to register a global triumph. Now that the tournament is back in Aotearoa after 22 years, they will be looking to reprise their feat from 2000.

New Zealand will kick off their campaign with the day/night opening fixture against West Indies at Tauranga’s Bay Oval on March 4.

How they made it?

New Zealand didn’t have the greatest of times after their group stage exit from the World Cup in 2017. In the ICC Women’s Championship cycle 2017-2020, they registered only seven wins and suffered 11 losses from 21 matches, finishing sixth with 17 points. However, being the hosts, they secured an automatic berth to the 2022 edition of the tournament.

What have they done in the past?

In the inaugural edition that was played in 1973, New Zealand finished third with three wins under their belt from six matches. Since then, they have had three runners-up finishes apart from the famous win at home in 2000.

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Best World Cup finish

Having hosted the tournament in 1982, they were second time lucky when they went on to beat Australia in a thrilling final at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln in 2000.

Despite winning only 16 of the 40 matches they played since the last World Cup, New Zealand will be buoyed by their recent series win against India, where they beat the visitors by a 4-1 margin.

Squad

Sophie Devine (c), Amy Satterthwaite, Suzie Bates, Maddy Green, Brooke Halliday, Hayley Jensen, Fran Jonas, Jess Kerr, Amelia Kerr, Frances Mackay, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Georgia Plimmer, Hannah Rowe, Lea Tahuhu

Travelling reserve: Molly Penfold

Likely playing XI

Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Amelia Kerr, Amy Satterthwaite, Maddy Green, Katey Martin (wk), Frances Mackay, Hayley Jensen, Lea Tahuhu, Jess Kerr, Hannah Rowe

Key players

Sophie Devine

Skipper Sophie Devine is one of the most feared batters in the world, especially in T20s. But her ODI numbers are as impressive as they can be. She has been the second-highest run-getter for New Zealand in the format, with 1268 runs at an average of 39.62 and a strike rate of 87.87 since the World Cup 2017. The allrounder has also picked up 28 wickets during the same period from 35 matches.

More than her all-round capabilities, New Zealand will be hoping for more of the destructive power that was on display during the warm-up match against Australia. She scored an unbeaten 161 off 117 balls to take the hosts to an emphatic win, while ringing a warning bell for all the other sides in the competition.

Suzie Bates

34-year-old Suzie Bates is one of the greats of the game and has been a prolific run-getter in both ODIs and T20Is. But having had a run of indifferent form and injuries, Bates looked past her prime in the away series against England last year during her return.

However, the right-hander got back to her best during the India series with her 11th hundred in ODIs – second-most by any batter – and will play a crucial role in a top-heavy batting lineup. Bates has the ability to give the side solid starts and she can also bat through the innings, allowing other batters to flourish around her.

X factor

Amelia Kerr

Amelia Kerr, the teen prodigy, has already grown into one of the members of the leadership group in a side consisting of three wise women – Bates, Devine, and Amy Satterthwaite. Kerr has one of the most potent googlies in the game of cricket and can make most sides on her bowling alone. She is also one of the best fielders in the world to boot.

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However, on her return from a mental health break, it’s her batting that has grabbed all the limelight. Promoting the talented allrounder from Wellington to number three already has been hailed as one of the greatest moves in recent times. Kerr scored 353 runs at an average of 117.66 and a strike rate of 97.51 in the five-match series against India– including three fifties and a hundred.

Prediction

Semi-finalists

All their struggles, winning only six matches from the last 25 matches, won’t act as a deterrent, for New Zealand will be a force to be reckoned with on their home soil. But the relative lack of experience in the pace bowling attack to support Lea Tahuhu might haunt them on good batting decks.