South Africa women on Saturday registered a comprehensive victory over hosts New Zealand, beating them by 7 wickets in the first match of the three match ODI series in Auckland.
Chasing 260, South African openers Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt shared a massive 163-run opening stand to lay a solid foundation. Lee made a run a ball 99, hitting thirteen fours in her knock. The nervous nineties though got the better of her and she was dismissed just one short of a well-deserved ton. Wolvaardt, on the other hand, remained unbeaten throughout the innings, anchoring the chase with a sedate 91 off 124 balls.
Earlier in the day, South Africa won the toss and elected to bowl first. New Zealand’s opening pair Lauren Down and Bernadine Bezuidenhout struggled in the middle and runs came in rather slowly. South African seamer Masabata Klass ended the openers stay on the pitch and New Zealand were 51 for two in the 15th over.
Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates stitched a vital partnership in the middle overs to regain some momentum back to their side. Devine, playing her first match as White ferns’ captain, scored 27 runs off 30 balls and looked in fine touch before holing out to Chloe Tryon in the 34th over. Bates, though stood ground and struck her 26th half-century off 71 balls. Along with Katie Perkins, she added 46 runs for the fourth wicket. Perkins finished her innings on 78 off 83 balls and propelled New Zealand to 259 for the loss of nine wickets.
The run chase began and South African women capitalized on their massive opening partnership. After losing two wickets, opener Wolvaardt was aided by captain Dane van Niekerk in the middle. The latter scored a 43 ball 37 and the batters shared a 64-run stand for the third wicket. While Niekerk got out to Holly Huddleston in the 47th over, Mignon du Preez (8*) scored the winning runs and Proteas women sealed the chase with nine balls to spare.
Khaka and Masabata Klaas were the picks of the South African bowlers, with three scalps each while Shabnam Ismail picked two wickets.
A clinical performance by the Proteas women in what turned out to be their second-highest run chase ever in ODI cricket helped South Africa gain two crucial points in the ICC Women’s Championship. The two teams meet for the 2nd ODI on Monday, 27 January at the same venue.