New Zealand Team Preview: Against Ireland, will it be a cakewalk for them?

Dev Tyagi
05 Jun 2018

From June 6 to 13, the White Ferns will descend in the lush greens of Ireland to once again exhibit what they so unfailingly have been in the last few months. Playing their hard-fought, truly competitive and a magnificent brand of cricket, seemingly always from the very top drawer. They may not always seem to be an outfit that revels in its victories. They may not seem too interested in staying glued to an outcome for too long- regardless of a win or defeat- either.

But playing positive and progressive cricket defines much of New Zealand. They are a team that savour moving ahead and taking each contest at a time, perhaps the central tenet to succeeding in T20s, a contest where cricket is embedded in the ‘now’.

It might have seemed the contest that would be upped by the ante of mostly Indian and Australian names, but when the likes Lea Tahuhu, Sophie Devine and most importantly- Suzie Bates graced the one-off Women’s IPL contest, the Wankhede stood in applause to congratulate the magnificent Bates.

In what’s slated to be an interesting week-long series featuring 1 T20I and 3 ODIs, New Zealand women’s cricket team will be taking on their Irish counterparts, currently the 10th ranked side in the ICC rankings.

A stupendous, all-round show, that’s often done wonders for her beloved New Zealand, Suzie Bates, current world no. 2 on women’s T20 batting rankings, proved that it would be her game, where she’d win plaudits for an excellent all-round show.

Quietly confident, supremely gifted and ever-agile athletes, the presence of New Zealand’s Lea Tahuhu and Sophie Devine will lift the bowling department and enable the side to edge past Ireland in the games to follow.

Tahuhu’s bowling average is an incredible 18 in T20s, while her economy is a brilliant miser 5.4 an over. Can she bite into her Irish opponents? And what’ll make the prospect of seeing a bat versus ball dominant contest would be the presence of world’s number 2 T20 bowler, Leigh Kasperek, who’s already created her mark in women’s T20s, having clinched 37 victims from 20 games.

The Irish could be expected to bat her out of the attack. But a willing proponent of confusing batswomen by changing the pace of her deliveries, the sight of a bespectacled Kasperek outfoxing batswomen holds an exciting prospect of seeing a true Kiwi saga. A contest where often the ball plays its own sweet part in defining a game so often hardwired and expected to be defined by batting and swashbuckle.

But that said, all eyes would be on the White Ferns, who, purely on team’s make up and their recent form, seem to be in some glorious touch. While the sight of seeing Bates, a handy right arm medium bowler and a fierce run-gatherer, someone who can hoist a few blows and stitch partnerships with ease will itself be overwhelming, if the batswomen do break-free, Ireland would want to wish for some mercy.

What might irk New Zealand’s hosts all the more would be the dismissive ways in which Suzie Bates’ side made a light work of Stafanie Taylor’s West Indies when the latter toured New Zealand earlier. Having white-washed the Windies women in 3 back-to-back ODIs, the White Ferns roasted their opponents in T20s as well, where they nearly completed another whitewash when the 4th T20 got washed out, the rains saving the Windies from an out and out Kiwi misery.

The standout stars from the series, in addition to usual suspects, Bates and Devine were Katey Martin, Satterthwaite and, Kasperek. Can the trio subdue Ireland this time around?

There’ll be curious eyes to gauge the talent of new youngsters that have been picked for the Ireland tour- Jess Watkin and Bernadine Bezuidenhout, the latter, a big-striking batswoman who favours heaps and hoists over the on the side.

While the national selection committee has vested a lot of faith on the two bold Kiwi talents, it will be interesting to see what side do New Zealand ultimately choose to field in what could be evenly-balanced pitches, where the wind might assist the ball to do some magic.

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