After having whitewashed hosts New Zealand, 3-0, in the three-match ODI series only last week, South Africa will be keen to replicate their form when the focus shifts to the five-match T20I series starting at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Sunday (February 2) .
South Africa, who had a dreadful time on their tour of India, have found their footing in the ‘land of the long white cloud’ and will be relishing the prospect of carrying their dominant form into the shorter format.
Despite their historic run, Mignon du Preez, South Africa’s senior batter, who starred with the bat in the last ODI in Hamilton, has urged her team not to take the battered New Zealand side lightly.
“We are under no illusion that everything will just happen like they did in the ODIs. We have to focus and fully switch to our next agenda which are the T20I matches against the White Ferns who will be looking to come hard at us,” said du Preez. “The most important thing for us is to ensure that we continue with the same vein of form that we had in the 50-over matches and play good positive cricket.”
South Africa arrived in Mount Mauganui on Friday (January 31), and completed their preparations, getting an opportunity to test the conditions in the coastal area. With the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 coming up later this month, the team management may also want to give some of the younger players opportunities to test the bench strength – something that will help them finalise combinations going in to the mega event.
The likes of Nadine de Klerk and Tumi Sekhukhune - both of whom have shown glimpses of potential at the international level - could be given a go through the course of the series.
“With the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup on the horizon it is important for us to manage the load and maybe this series will offer an opportunity for the youngsters who have not had the chance in the ODIs to come in and play a key role in this T20 series,” stated du Preez, who will be earning her 96th T20I cap Sunday.
“We have quality young players in the side who are eager to impress and I think if we want to compete with the best in the world in the future it is important that they are given a chance in these conditions that will put them in good stead for the future.”
For New Zealand, the series provides them with an opportunity to right the wrongs of the ODI series. With many of their core players – Sophie Devine, Maddy Green, Rachel Priest, Suzie Bates and Amelia Kerr – having enjoyed a solid run in the domestic T20 tournaments at home and in Australia, New Zealand will be hoping they can translate that to the international level.
The return of Lea Tahuhu will certainly bolster the bowling attack – her pace and the intimidation factor that she brings to the line-up will add some ‘tooth’ to the hosts’ attack - while Bates and Devine will continue to hold the key with the bat. Veteran Rachel Priest, who was drafted in to the squad following a good run of form in foreign T20 leagues, will be looking to cement her place in the line-up as well.
While there is little doubt South Africa go into this series as hot favourites, Devine and co. will be desperate to stamp their authority on the visitors. After all, they are one of the more dangerous T20 teams on the international circuit, but they will need to get their act together.
New Zealand: Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest, Lea Tahuhu.
South Africa: Dane Van Niekerk (c), Laura Wolvaardt, Lizelle Lee, Mignon Du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Sune Luus, Chloe Tryon, Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Tumi Sekhukhune, Trisha Chetty, Nonkukuleko Mlaba, Nadine De Klerk, Nondumiso Shangase.