Stun­ning In­dian ton hits NZ semi hopes

Herald on Sunday - - SPORT - Niall An­der­son

The White Ferns’ hopes of win­ning the Twenty20 World Cup have suf­fered a ma­jor blow.

A 34-run de­feat to In­dia has severely dented the White Ferns’ chances of mak­ing the semi­fi­nals, with Wed­nes­day’s clash against Aus­tralia shap­ing as must-win.

The prob­lem with that is ob­vi­ous. This Aus­tralian team is con­sid­ered by some their best ever and they have al­ready claimed three com­fort­able vic­to­ries over the White Ferns in their warm-up games last month.

Fall­ing into a 0-2 hole would re­quire the Ferns to beat Pak­istan and Ire­land (likely), while hop­ing Pak­istan tip over In­dia (un­likely) to have any slim chance of mak­ing the semi­fi­nals in the West Indies.

White Ferns cap­tain Amy Sat­terth­waite is aware of the size­able task her side faces af­ter the open­ing loss.

“It’s pretty ob­vi­ous — we know we’ve got to win. I think ev­ery game is a must-win. We knew com­ing into this tour­na­ment, we talked about how im­por­tant [yes­ter­day’s game] was. We haven’t had the best start but it’s still early days and we know we’ve still got an op­por­tu­nity.”

They’re in a pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion, though, and that’s be­cause of In­dian cap­tain Har­man­preet Kaur.

She ar­rived with her side 41-3 af­ter six overs, af­ter Lea Tahuhu (2-18 from three overs) and Leigh Kasperek (1-28 from four) took the top off the In­dian or­der. Four­teen overs later, Kaur had be­come the first In­dian woman to score a Twenty20 cen­tury, and just the third to hit a hun­dred at the World Cup, smash­ing an as­ton­ish­ing 103 from only 51 balls.

Sup­ported by 18-year-old Jemimah Ro­drigues (59 off 45 balls), the pair added 134 for the fourth wicket, tak­ing par­tic­u­lar lik­ing to the bowl­ing of Hay­ley Jensen and Jess Watkin as the run rate sky­rock­eted.

The Ferns also missed out on mul­ti­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to use the De­ci­sion Re­view Sys­tem, the big­gest let-off be­ing when re­plays showed Ro­drigues would have been given out lbw to Tahuhu on two, but New Zealand opted not to use their one re­fer­ral.

Ro­drigues and Kaur made them pay, and In­dia’s even­tual to­tal — 194-5 — was al­ways go­ing to be in­cred­i­bly tough to chase down, but Suzie Bates gave it her best crack.

New Zealand’s great­est short­form ex­po­nent smacked 67 off 50 balls but didn’t get much as­sis­tance. Only a late flurry from Katey Mar­tin (39 off 25) saw any other Fern reach 20, as a steady flow of wick­ets stymied their chase.

With the run rate re­quired never fall­ing be­low 9.6, the White Ferns never got into a po­si­tion of strength, suc­cumb­ing well short as keep­ing pace proved too tough a chal­lenge. With Aus­tralia on the way, though, the chal­lenges aren’t get­ting any eas­ier.

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