© ICC

Sophie Devine is in the form of her life. With three back-to-back half-centuries already in the series, the big-hitting allrounder took it a bit further when she notched up her maiden T20I century as New Zealand defeated South Africa by 69 runs in the fourth game to pocket the five-match series on Monday at Basin Reserve in Wellington with a game to go. New Zealand had earlier won the first two games before slumping in the third one on Sunday (February 9).

Sent into bat first, New Zealand had a similar sort of start just like any other game in this series with Devine showing her intents clear early on hitting Nonkululeko Mbala for four boundaries in the third over. Devine’s opening partner, Lauren Down, failed once again as the hosts lost their first wicket with just 27 runs on board.

With Suzie Bates at no.3, there was no looking back for New Zealand thereafter, as the Bates-Devine duo took over the South African bowlers all around the park adding 142 runs for the second wicket. While Devine went after whatever loose ball she got, Bates played the second fiddle. The highlight of Devine’s innings was when she hit right-arm leggie Sune Luus for two fours and the same number of sixes in an over that yielded 23 runs.

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Devine, who now has got scores of 54 not out, 61, 77 and 105 in the last four games of the ongoing series against South Africa, adding to her 72 in her last T20I against India in 2019 made it five half-centuries on trot, surpassing India’s Mithali Raj who previously held the record with four. Devine’s partnership with Bates was also the highest second-wicket stand for New Zealand and ranks on top of all-time against a tier-one women’s cricket nation. Devine also became just the second New Zealand batter to reach three figures in a T20I after her teammate Bates.

However, the Proteas finally got Devine when she was run out in the final over after a blistering 105 off 65 balls studded with 12 hits to the fence and three sixes. Bates was unbeaten on 46-ball 47 with three boundaries. South African skipper Dane van Niekerk used as many as seven bowlers but without much success as New Zealand finished at 171 runs for the loss of two wickets in 20 overs.

Sophie Devine was at her brutal best in Wellington © ICC/Twitter

In reply, the visitors were never really in the chase as they lost wickets at regular intervals, thanks to some exceptional bowling from the Kiwis. Laura Wolvaardt (eight) was the first to go, clean bowled by Anna Peterson before Devine scalped Lizelle Lee for 25. Luus (16), van Niekerk (10) and Mignon du Preez (14) all got starts but couldn’t convert any of those as South Africa lost their last six wickets for just 32 runs to eventually stay contain at 102 for the loss of nine wickets in 17 overs. Shabnim Ismail, who had suspectedly pulled her hamstring when fielding, did not bat.

Peterson was the pick of New Zealand bowlers taking three wickets for 14 runs, while Jess Kerr, playing only her second T20I, took two for 17 in her three overs. Rosemary Mair (1/22), Devine (1/6), Ameria Kerr (1/20) and Hayley Jensen (1/14) all picked up a wicket apiece. The final match of the series is on February 13 at Dunedin.

Brief scores: New Zealand 171/2 in 20 overs (Sophie Devine 105, Suzie Bates 47*) beat South Africa 102/9 in 17 overs (Lizelle Lee 25; Anna Peterson 3/14, Jess Kerr 2/17) by 69 runs.