A refreshed New Zealand are ready for their crucial ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 clash with South Africa in Hamilton.
Match 16 of this year’s tournament will only be the fourth meeting between New Zealand and South Africa at ICC Women’s World Cup. New Zealand are unbeaten so far, winning on all three occasions.
These two nations have also played 13 ODIs between them, excluding the World Cups. New Zealand have the upper hand in the head-to-head battle, winning eight of those contests, compared to South Africa’s five. Contrastingly, three of South Africa’s five wins came when they clean swept their most recent WODI bilateral series (3-0) in 2020 at New Zealand.
New Zealand will be looking to move on from their convincing loss against Australia and get back to their winning ways. They are currently at the fourth position with two wins and two losses. On the other hand, South Africa enter this match in serious form after winning all three matches at this competition. They now have 19 wins in their last 22 ODIs (one no-result and 2 Super over losses).
The White Ferns fell to a 141-run defeat to Australia on Sunday, leaving them with two wins and two defeats from their first four games.
While the host nation are not quite in sudden death mode, Devine admits it is important for them to hit the ground running against an unbeaten South Africa.
She said: “I’m not sure it’s quite do-or-die just yet but we know this game has some real significance for us and we know South Africa are playing particularly well at the moment.
“What we can control is how we play, how we prepare and how we plan. That is what we’ve done. We’ve had a bit of time off, which was really necessary because it’s been a full-on first couple of weeks, especially coming straight off the back of the India series.
“We took some time off, we’ve regrouped. We’re looking forward to the challenge, we’re under no illusions that we certainly want to win our remaining games and it starts tomorrow.
“It’s really important that we have our own space, that we can switch off and get away from cricket because at times it can be all-encompassing. It’s important for us to do different things, some played golf, some went to the beach, some just chilled out and had time away to refresh and recharge the batteries.
“It’s now about switching back on and we know it’s cricket time now. That’s something the group has done particularly well over the last couple of weeks, being able to switch on and off when necessary.”
Devine has bowled just six overs so far in the tournament because of a troublesome quad, but revealed that she is nearly recovered from the niggle and could feature more frequently with the ball going forwards, potentially starting against South Africa.
And when it comes to her message to the team before the clash, she said that the key is to make the most of the occasion.
She added: “It’s the same message that has been said throughout ‘Have fun and enjoy the occasion, it’s a World Cup at home and another opportunity to represent our country. We want to be playing with a smile on our face because we know that when we’ve played well in this tournament, it’s when we’ve done so enjoying each other’s company and being really relaxed’. That will be my message to the girls. It’s no different really.”
South Africa, meanwhile, can take another step towards a spot in the semi-finals, having got the better of defending champions England in their last game.
That one went down to the wire, the Proteas eventually earning a three-wicket victory with four balls to spare.
And despite the perfect start to the campaign, coach Hilton Moreeng believes his side have not yet hit their stride in any facet of the game.
He said: “Realistically we haven’t played the kind of cricket that we have been playing over the last year and a half. If you look from the first to the third game, we had batters and bowlers in different situations who had to win us the game.
“So it shows collectively as a unit in all three departments, we haven’t actually fired as we would like to do, especially by our standards. We would love eventually to get to a situation where all three departments are firing. World Cups are very tough and you don’t always get the ideal game but you work towards that.
“The bowlers have been great on other days and in the last game, the batters had to make sure they applied themselves to make sure we got the right result. The bottom line at the end of a day in a World Cup is that you have to make sure you get the two points.”
With inputs from ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020, Sportradar