Women's Cricket World Cup: White Ferns cruise to vital win over India
After starting their World Cup with a dramatic defeat and rain-interrupted win, tonight's straightforward - and vital - victory over India must have felt satisfying for the White Ferns.
The New Zealand bowlers would have been particularly pleased after a substandard performance against the West Indies, responding in brilliant fashion to lift their side to a 62-run triumph at Seddon Park.
The hosts' total of 260-9 had appeared a little light on a good pitch for batting, as Amy Satterthwaite (75 from 84 balls) paced an innings that was in parts promising and frustrating.
But led by Lea Tahuhu, all six bowlers made valuable contributions to ensure there were more than enough runs on the board.Advertise with NZME.
Tahuhu bounced back from an expensive opening to her tournament, snaring 3-17 from 10 overs, and India's chase never left walking speed as they were eventually dismissed for 198 in the 47th over.
The result breathed life into New Zealand's tilt at a second World Cup triumph at home. With two wins and one defeat, their chances of reaching the semifinals have brightened considerably in recent days, now set to face Australia on Sunday.
They will head to Wellington buoyed by their bowling efforts and knowing similar improvements will be needed with the bat if they wish to challenge the favourites.
The potential to put together a formidable total was certainly clear today but undone by the loss of wickets at unfortunate times through the innings.
Aside from Suzie Bates, the top order all at least made starts and built a succession of strong partnerships. But the 67-run third-wicket stand between Satterthwaite and Amelia Kerr was the best of the bunch, indicative of the regularity with which India chipped away.
That pair rebuilt well after Sophie Devine had departed for a rapid 35, gradually finding their timing and dispatching the loose ball.
Kerr registered her first World Cup half-century - continuing her fine form against India from the 4-1 series win last month - but was trapped in front the delivery after she had raised her bat.
That set up a good test for the middle order and it was one they looked like passing as Satterthwaite kept up her steady accumulation, beginning to take more risks as the White Ferns advanced to 211-4 with 10 overs left.Advertise with NZME.
But seeming set for a big individual and team total, Satterthwaite chipped an attempted drive straight to midwicket, as Pooja Vastrakar (4-34) led a strong death-bowling effort in spite of some dire fielding.
The White Ferns lost 5-31 in seven overs to close the innings, placing the target in the competitive category, but it began to look a lot better as soon as India started their chase.
New Zealand opened with the spin of Frankie Mackay and she sent down four overs for seven runs to immediately put India behind the target rate.
Tahuhu and Jess Kerr were equally parsimonious with their pace and each picked up an early wicket, the latter striking first to dismiss star opener Smriti Mandhana for six.
By the 20-over mark, the required rate was already above seven as Tahuhu tied down an end, picking up another scalp in a spell of 2-7 from six overs.
India had crept to 75-3 by the halfway mark, hitting just five boundaries, and their hopes of pulling off an unlikely victory seemed to rest with captain Mithali Raj.Advertise with NZME.
So when Amelia Kerr turned one away to dismiss the skipper for 31, the first of two wickets from consecutive deliveries for the 21-year-old, the rest of the innings assumed the feeling of a procession.
Kerr finished with 3-56 to go with her 50 and, despite some late hitting from Harmanpreet Kaur (71 from 63), the White Ferns completed their best performance of the tournament.