Air of inevitability
Although New Zealand were still mathematically in the reckoning for a spot in the semi-final, there seemed to be an air of inevitability to the proceedings. The hosts started with a forced change as Rosemary Mair made her World Cup debut in place of the injured Lea Tahuhu. Pakistan tweaked the XI with a couple of changes from the big loss against England. The impressive Muneeba Ali was brought back in place of Nahida Khan, while Anam Amin replaced Aiman Anwer.
Once Pakistan opted to bowl, New Zealand needed to score a mammoth score and pull off a massive win before they could fancy dreams of India and England going down by huge margins on Sunday.
Battle between Anam and Devine
Sophie Devine decided that she will resort to the slog sweep against Anam and she was successful at first scoring a boundary and a six off the left-arm spinner. However, Anam had the last laugh when Devine missed a flatter delivery as she came down the track to flick one and was bowled.
Bates – Amelia stand
Amelia Kerr didn’t have the greatest of World Cups with the bat till now, and when she walked in to bat to join Bates in the sixth over, New Zealand needed the duo to form a partnership.
At the other end, Bates was going great guns, as she started with three boundaries against Diana Baig before Devine got out. She then flicked Fatima Sana for another four. But it wass in the final over of the power play that Bates really pressed on the accelerator, as she smashed Anam for three boundaries to help New Zealand end the tenth over at 56 for 1.
The duo added 68 runs for the second wicket before Nida Dar got Amelia to top edge one to Sidra Amin at deep mid-wicket for 24.
Bates swept Nashra Sundhu to bring up her fifty from 54 balls and kept going despite the loss of Amelia and Amy Satterthwaite at the other end. With Dar striking twice in the same over to remove the two big wickets, it was imperative that Bates stayed at the crease.
And the 34-year-old didn't disappoint the White Ferns. Bates cut Dar through cover for her tenth boundary in the 21st over. She employed the sweep to good effect and added another four with a strike off Omaima Sohail.
The opener also got to the milestone of 5000 runs – the fourth in the world and the quickest to the mark – during the process when she was on 81. Even as she lost Maddy Green in the 33rd over, Bates pulled Sana in the next over to bring up her 12th century in the format.
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Handy contributions from the middle order
At 100 for 3, New Zealand were in a mini wobble and once again their middle order was under pressure in the tournament. While they didn’t blow the opposition away, the trio of Green, Brooke Halliday, and Katey Martin contributed with 20 plus scores each. More importantly, two of them stayed with Bates to form handy partnerships. Green added 60 with the centurion, while Halliday shared a 51-run stand.
Once they lost Bates and Halliday in quick succession, two run outs followed, which brought up memories of previous collapses from the tournament. However, Martin stood firm and played a few inventive shots to take New Zealand to 265 for 8 at the end of their 50 overs.
Dar leading with the ball
Dar didn’t have the greatest of times in the format with the ball in recent times. The off spinner was averaging in the 50s since January 2020 before she notched up her career-best figures against West Indies.
On Saturday, Dar bagged the big wickets of Amelia, Satterthwaite and Green in a spell of nagging off spin bowling and she gave away only 39 runs in the process. First she broke the partnership of Bates and Amelia with the wicket of the latter, before forcing Satterthwaite to chip one straight to cover. She then came back to dismiss Green as the ball turned in to the right hander to castle the stumps.
Despite young Ali trying to break free, Pakistan were sedate at the start, with them ending the power play on 42 for 1. After scoring only 16 runs in the first five overs, Ali helped Pakistan double the score with 15 runs from the next over. The left-hander smashed Rowe for a maximum before hitting the pacer through fine-leg for another four.
Introduced in the eighth over, Mackay struck with her seventh delivery to remove Sidra for 14. The off-spinner bowled seven overs on the trot, giving away only 13 runs. But more importantly she struck twice in those overs with the wickets of Sidra and Sohail.
Her frugal bowling also contributed to the wicket at the other end. Mair had Ali caught by a leaping Devine at mid-on when the southpaw tried to go over the top to get a move on.
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Dar to the rescue again
From 73 for 3, it was down to Dar again to resurrect the Pakistan innings and she had skipper Bismah Maroof for company. The duo added 82 runs for the fourth wicket. While Maroof took her time, Dar played a few shots, including a six of Rowe.
Dar got going with a couple of boundaries against Satterthwaite before repeating the feat against Mair. With a single in the 36th over bowled by Amelia, the allrounder reached her fifty from just 52 balls.
Hannah gets wickets in a row
With Pakistan looking like threatening the target and with Dar opening up against her, it was Rowe's turn to up her game to provide the hosts with a breakthrough. She did just that when she removed Maroof for 38.
But it was in her next over that Rowe delivered body blows to Pakistan, to take out two of their reliable middle order batters. The right arm pacer first struck to send Aliya Riaz back for a solitary run and then got the big wicket of Dar with a well-disguised slower delivery. The off-cutter dipped on the batter as Dar went too early for the shot and was deceived to be dismissed right after her fifty.
The 25-year-old eventually finished with her career-best figures of 5 for 55 from her ten overs.
Pakistan’s downward spiral
Once Rowe took out the engine room, it was only a matter of time before Pakistan imploded and she ran through the lower order to reduce them from 155 for 3 to 174 for 9. Although the last pair played out the final ten overs, it was with the air of inevitability that was there from the start of the match.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 265 for 8 in 50 overs (Suzie Bates 126; Nida Dar 3/39) beat Pakistan 194/9 in 50 overs (Nida Dar 50, Bismah Maroof 38; Hannah Rowe 5/55, Frances Mackay 2/29) by 71 runs