WHITE FERNS captain Suzie Bates shapes to cut. Image: Photosport

WHITE FERNS v South Africa, ODI 2, Kimberley

South Africa has struck back at the WHITE FERNS at Kimberley’s Diamond Oval, celebrating an historic maiden four-wicket win over the New Zealand women in the second One-Day International.

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Having unexpectedly crumbled under late pressure in the first match, this time the Proteas women made no such mistake as they stayed on target and then seized control in the final overs of the chase, hunting down the WHITE FERNS’ 222/8 with five balls and plenty of nerves to spare.

The honour of the winning runs went to Ayabonga Khaka, who punched them up in style with a boundary to level the seven-match series, but it was a reversal of fortunes for player of the match Mignon du Preez that had made all the difference as the South Africans whooped and jumped in delight.

Dismissed for a golden duck in the first match, the experienced du Preez this time powered to 80 off 112 balls — exactly half of her tally amassed in boundaries before she was bowled by Holly Huddleston in the 48th over, by which time victory was firmly in her sights.

Assisted in the latter stages by the aggressive Suné Luus, du Preez had relished stepping up the attack after the necessary chore of seeing off the WHITE FERNS’ number one spinner, Morna Nielsen — even so, the required run rate had never got away on them, hovering throughout at little more than a four-ball per over.

Nielsen, too, had enjoyed a reversal of fortune, of sorts. Although her economy had been outstanding with just nine runs conceded in game one, she had been wicketless. This time, the left-arm off-spin star ripped apart the Proteas almost single-handedly. When she had Marizanne Kapp caught off her final delivery of the day, she had achieved only the second five-wicket bag in One-Day International history between the two sides, and just the second of her own ODI career: a return of 5-39, following on from her maiden effort against Sri Lanka last summer.

Huddleston’s late strike was the only other wicket and Nielsen had delivered her work without the back-up of leg-spinner Erin Bermingham, who instead was laid up in hospital with a bout of gastro, replaced by pace allrounder Thamsyn Newton in the playing XI.

The problem for the New Zealanders was that the Proteas’ positive top order had put up steady resistance, openers Lara Goodall and Lizelle Lee (who was promoted up the order) falling just three runs shy of a 50-run stand before du Preez and captain Dané van Niekerk consolidated with 58 for the third wicket. Even Amy Satterthwaite, whose 10 overs cost just 24 runs, couldn’t hold them for long.

Earlier, it had all started out as a ditto day for Suzie Bates as van Niekerk again won the toss and put the visitors into bat, however, from there the Kiwi captain personally ensured her side got off to a much healthier start.

Bates would tick off her 3000th ODI career run as she hit 40, top order legend Debbie Hockley (4064) the only woman higher in the New Zealand all-time list.

Ultimately Bates would collect a regal 66 off 86 balls before she was caught off Luus, while Rachel Priest was also back to her normal self, smashing four boundaries off the first three overs to get their partnership off to a cracking start.

Priest (31 off 49) had been the first to fall, run out in the 17th over, while Bates and Satterthwaite (47) sailed on past the 30-over mark. All the markers were in place for a strong finish, yet the New Zealanders were not permitted to capitalise as freely as they would have liked in the final 10 overs as the South African attack began to chip out regular wickets and restrict the target to the realms of possibility.

Kapp finished as the best of the Proteas with a haul of 3-41, and their victory also ensured the intrigue remains on the ICC Women’s Championship points table — the margin between the sides restored to just one point.

The last of the hotly-contested IWC points games in this seven-match series will be the crunch third One-Day International, a day-night match set to begin at the same venue at 1.30am, Friday 14 October New Zealand time (2.30pm Thursday 13 October local time).

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