Sophie Devine on Monday (January 27) suggested her team could “beat anyone if they play to their potential.” In the three-match ODI series against South Africa they have not even got close. Following the 3-0 thrashing they handed out New Zealand, the visitors have now gained some real momentum going into the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020 next month and the T20I series starting on Sunday (February 2).
In the final ODI on Thursday (January 30), Sune Luus was the star with figures of 6 for 45, which were also the second-best for her in the format. She thus became the first woman to take two six-wicket hauls in ODIs. The leg-spinner bowled with great skill, ripping through the hosts' middle order with ease. She was not afraid to throw the ball above the batters' eye-line, and got plenty of turn off the surface. She also bowled with discipline, which the Kiwis lacked. Luus' spell further exposed the hosts’ inability to cope against quality spin and pace bowling - skills South Africa demonstrated throughout the series.
South Africa completely outplayed New Zealand in every facet of the game right through the three-match series. They fielded brilliantly, bowled with real plans and have a very balanced batting line-up that made the hosts' attack look ordinary and out of ideas, often leaving captain Sophie Devine with very few options to turn to.
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The facts are telling. South Africa have been dominant with the ball, bowling the home team out in two out of three games. In the first game they had the Kiwis nine down. South Africa, on the other hand, only lost nine wickets in the three games played. This shows how the South African batters completely dominated the New Zealand attack.
Team bowling statistics:
Following an injury-laden 2019, where they missed the services of several senior players through the course of the year, South Africa are finally back to full strength. With the return of their skipper Dane van Niekerk and the allrounder, Chloe Tryon, South Africa have looked complete. After their tie with Pakistan (at home), and the series loss to India (away) their performances on this tour of New Zealand have showcased South Africa's true potential. Their historic 3-0 victory over the Kiwis means they have now qualified for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2021 with 22 points in the ICC Championship.
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New Zealand have to quickly find a winning formula. With momentum firmly in South Africa's favour, they will have to work harder to shrug off this disappointing run of losses. In the T20 World Cup 2020, they are in the ‘pool of death’ grouped alongside Australia and India. They can ill afford slip ups like this if they want to challenge for a place in the final four. It appears as if they don’t have depth in their batting and are found wanting if Suzie Bates and Devine fail. It’s a weak lower-order batting that New Zealand have.
The five T20Is against South Africa next week will go some way in helping Devine and co. prepare for the World Cup and possibly give them some momentum. However, if they lose this series I can’t see them beating Australia or India. And with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka watching closely, they will be waiting and backing themselves to beat the Kiwis. The next week will act as a litmus test which will tell us if New Zealand can come out of this slump.