In a rain-reduced sixth One-Day International in Paarl, South Africa served the WHITE FERNS with a sharp reminder that they are not done in this series.
New Zealand’s strong WHITE FERNS squad has already pocketed both the trophy and the IWC advantage but, from 4-1 down, the Proteas Women bit back with a devastating bowling performance that once again constricted the Kiwi top order launchpad — and, this time, they just kept going.
Drizzly conditions meant South African skipper Dané van Niekerk had wasted no time inserting her opponents once she won the toss on a cold and grey day. Play was shortened to 39 overs per side and the scheduled start at Boland Park had been delayed by two and a quarter hours.
While the WHITE FERNS again rejigged their line-up with World Cup depth in mind — Maddy Green coming in for her first start at five, heroine of the previous match Natalie Dodd dropping to the bench — the top order power trio was back, Suzie Bates pairing with Rachel Priest at the top and leading run-maker Amy Satterthwaite returning to first drop.
Opening force Ayebonga Khaka had already proved a handful in the series, Moseline Daniels sharing the new ball with her today as the Proteas dealt with two injury dents to their squad from the previous match. Daniels enjoyed the first taste of success in just the fourth over courtesy of Priest’s cheap departure. In the space of five balls, six for one became six for two, Bates becoming Ayebonga’s first and ultimately lone victim. Exactly as Priest before her, the captain had been caught for just three runs.
Satterthwaite and number four Katey Martin began the job of breathing some life into the scorecard and found the first boundaries of the match between them, before medium pacer Odine Kirsten critically put a stop to Satterthwaite’s resuscitation efforts when she was on 13.
Taking out Maddy Green lbw in her next set of six, the surprising Kirsten was suddenly leading the charge with two for four, the WHITE FERNS at 40 for four struggling for partnerships after 12 tough overs.
Martin needed to take the lead, and new partner Katie Perkins — normally an industrious worker of the ball, looked to mirror her positivity by smashing Klaas for six. It was a short-lived assault, however, Klaas extracting quick revenge by bowling Perkins just two balls later.
Still working on her own start, Martin would go on to lose both Sam Curtis and Erin Bermingham as the dressing room door kept swinging, the WHITE FERNS 80 for seven by 20 overs. A change of tack was called for and Martin and Holly Huddleston began to work the singles in what was now a defensive action. There would be a sole picket-rattler — to Huddleston — in the next seven overs before she was trapped by Klaas.
Klaas (3-23) would pick up her last in Lea Tahuhu who exited to a top-drawer catch from Moseline Daniels. The left-armer herself then returned to the crease to account for Morna Nielsen, halting the WHITE FERNS at 130 all out in 33.3 overs — five and a half overs left unutilised.
Martin had remained defiant, her unbeaten 65 off 80 balls (including five boundaries) providing exactly half the side’s runs as she held her composure for 29 overs. It was not only just her second ODI half century, but her first since 2007/08.
Proteas openers Andrie Steyn and Lizelle Lee knew the respect required against the opening attack of pacey Tahuhu and the exacting Nielsen, but the introduction of Bermingham’s flight in the sixth over tempted Lee to free the shackles, smiting a six among 10 runs off the over.
The opening stand was broken in retaliation by Tahuhu next over, Steyn nicking behind — but the 32-run platform for the first wicket had been a handy start on a low target.
On 19, Lee was not so lucky against Bermingham, Bates gratefully accepting the skied catch; but with some three runs required per over, strokemaker Mignon du Preez was content waiting for the boundary ball as she eased behind the controls.
Du Preez would slam bruising back-to-back fours off Bates in the 16th over to really loosen the pressure valve, even as Dinesha Devnarain struggled at the other end. The key for South Africa’s captain, their leading run-maker this series, was occupancy and, by the time partner Devnarain was stumped for an arduous 10 runs, the Proteas required just 48 runs from 17 overs.
Du Preez and Dané van Niekerk patiently ticked off the bulk of the remaining runs, du Preez falling on 44 (76 balls, 6x4) when just three runs were required to victory. Huddleston made it a double wicket maiden when she swiftly removed debutante Sinalo Jafta for no score, but with two overs remaining the ball was in South Africa’s court and van Niekerk (36* off 61 balls, 3x4, 1x6) sealed a morale-boosting five-wicket victory with a leg bye just four balls later.
The teams meet one more time at Paarl’s Boland Park in the seventh and final ODI of the groundbreaking inaugural series. Play begins at 9pm NZT this Monday, 24 October; the WHITE FERNS lead the series 4-2.