The White Ferns started off their T20 World Cup preparations with an emphatic nine-wicket win in the first T20I against South Africa, in Mount Maunganui, courtesy of a half-century from skipper Sophie Devine. The New Zealand bowling attack set up the win by restricting South Africa to 116 for 7.
It’s worth noting here South Africa were without their three key players in Captain Dane van Niekerk and all-rounders Sune Luus and Marizanne Kapp, who were all nursing minor injuries. Chloe Tryon led South Africa in the absence of their regular skipper and this meant that the entire Protea bench strength was tested which was one positive outcome, something that they will benefit from.
They started steadily, posting 56 losing the wicket of Lizelle Lee in their initial ten overs. However 33 by Laura Wolvaardt was South Africa’s only batting highlight. Wolvaardt fell to medium-pacer Hayley Jensen on the penultimate delivery of the 15th over, only for Jess Kerr and wicketkeeper Rachel Priest to combine for the run-out of Tryon the following ball.
The double-wicket over marked the start of a slump during which South Africa lost five wickets for 28 runs in 5.1 overs. Kerr and Lea Tahuhu returned identical figures of 2 for 17 each.
In contrast, the White Ferns top order took charge of the chase with their openers, Priest and Devine, adding 75 at an impressive ten per over.
Devine struck a 32-ball 54, hitting four sixes and three fours in the process, bringing up her half-century in only 27 balls, to take her tally of T20I fifties to 11. She put on an unbeaten 42-run partnership with Suzie Bates, who made 18 off 15 balls.
New Zealand thus chased the target down in 12.2 overs and winning the first game by 9 wickets taking a 1-0 lead in the 5 matches T20I series.
The second T20I in the five-match series will be played in Hamilton on Thursday, 6th Feb.