Kiwi captain Suzie Bates raced to her maiden T20I ton as the Proteas chased leather in the opening T20I.
Proteas skipper Dane van Niekerk won the toss and elected to field first in the first match of the Proteas’ double-header day against New Zealand in Somerset but the plan backfired as Bates and her opening partner, Sophie Devine, raced to 182 in the 17th over. Devine fell for 73, caught by Tazmin Brits off Marizanne Kapp, who was the Proteas’ best bowler as she took 1-32 off her four overs (economy 8.00).
Devine’s 73 came off 48 balls with four fours and four sixes at a strike rate of 152.08, no doubt inspired by the English men’s side’s rampant display against Australia.
Bates carried her bat for 124 scored off just 66 balls (S/R 187.8), a phenomenal innings made up of 16 fours and three sixes.
The New Zealand Women finished on 216-1 off their 20 overs at a run rate of 10.8 and, in response, the Proteas openers got off to a flying start. Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt added 29 without loss before Lee was caught behind for 10 in the fourth over, followed swiftly by Brits and then Wolvaardt, who scored a fluent 25 off 17 balls with five cracking fours.
Van Niekerk once again rose to the challenge on this tour, combining with Mignon du Preez in a 79-run stand for the fifth wicket to keep the Proteas in with a sniff of victory, until Du Preez was run out by Anna Peterson after a fine 36 off 31 balls.
Van Niekerk kept fighting until she was bowled in the 19th over for 58 off 44 balls (nine fours, one six, S/R 131.81), as her side ended their 20 overs on 150-6. It had been a brave effort and one from which they should draw much credit but it was simply not enough to match the batting performance of Bates and Devine, the latter adding figures of 1-22 (economy 7.00) to her innings of 73.
Hayley Jensen was the destroyer-in-chief for New Zealand, taking 3-28 (economy 7.00), including the key wickets of Wolvaardt, Van Niekerk and Sune Luus, while Amelia Kerr was the most economical bowler, with just 22 runs coming from her four overs at 5.50 per over.
The New Zealand Women hit seven sixes to the single six from the Proteas Women, and that dominance with the bat made the difference to set them up for a 66-run win.
Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images