Women's World T20 2018: Well-rounded White Ferns squad under new leader search for maiden title
With a bunch of multi-skilled cricketers alongside a core that has been together for a while, White Ferns enter the sixth edition of the ICC Women's World T20 as one of the stronger units.
Under the new leadership of Amy Satterthwaite the White Ferns will be aiming to go one notch further than their campaign in 2010, which surprisingly " for the second ranked team in the world " was also their last appearance in the final of an ICC event.
One of the biggest concerns going into the World Cup will be New Zealand's current run of form that has extended to five straight defeats, including a 3-0 whitewash in a series played across the Tasman against Australia.
Earlier in June-July, White Ferns lost the tri-series finals to hosts England, with South Africa being the other team.
New Zealand won their first warm-up fixture against Sri Lanka, but went down against a slightly more formidable opponents and hosts Windies in the second warm-up game ahead of the tournament.
Women's World T20 history
New Zealand is one of the stronger outfits when it comes to the shortest format, having reached the finals in the first two editions " 2009 and 2010 " of the tournament, however, they eventually failed to lift the trophy on both occasions. The likes of Satterthwaite along with senior players in Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine " all have experienced agonising defeats to England in 2009 followed by losing to neighbours Australia in 2010 event.
The White ferns have won 18 out of the 24 encounters they have taken part in. With 75 % wins, New Zealand are tied with Australia and only England have a better winning percentage in World T20s.
Players to watch out for
Satterthwaite will have as many as six spin-bowling options at her disposal. Off-spinner Leigh Kasperek (former World No 2) and leg-spinning teenage sensation Amelia Kerr are most likely to shoulder the responsibility of bowling. In a team where there isn't dearth of big names, the World T20 offers emerging star Kerr to establish her name in history books. Earlier this year she became only the second woman cricketer to score a double-century in ODI cricket and currently holds the record of the highest individual score in Women's cricket. All this while she was not even 18. Add to that 50+ wickets in two years of international cricket. She has a T20 bowling economy rate well under 6 an over, and is coming off a hat-trick for the Wellington Blaze.
Jess Watkin, Maddy Green and Anna Peterson offer myriad of spin options and possess the potential of even bowling their side to victory. Satterwaite herself has a six-for to her name in T20Is.
The evergreen Suzie Bates is an obvious candidate not only for the White Ferns but perhaps one of the marquee players to watch out for in the tournament, especially after being freed up from captaincy, Bates has channeled her energies to focus on her batting.
The 31-year old star opener occupies the numero uno spot in the ICC rankings. With an experience of over 100 T20Is she forms a destructive pair at the top of the order with the all-rounder Sophie Devine. The big-hitting 29-year old, who shattered record books after taking just 18 balls (fastest) to reach her half-century, is the linchpin in New Zealand's batting line up. Boasting of a strike rate over 120, the 29-year old contributes with the ball as well.
New Zealand have been unable to translate their potential in ICC events ever since the 2010 runners up finish. They have all well-rounded team with wealth of experience in all departments. Pacers Lea Tahuhu and Devine will play the support act to the spin-heavy Kiwi side. However, the problem for the White Ferns lies to find firepower towards the end of their innings, so it becomes instrumental for Devine to bat through. Likes of Maddy Green, Katey Martin and Bernadine Bezuidenhout will have to step up and if those players can start making regular significant contributions, the New Zealand side could well dream of winning their maiden title.
White Ferns will be challenged right from their first match against India followed by a fixture against Australia and if they do not register a win in one of the two matches, they will have to rely on few other upsets to go their way if they have to make it to top four.
New Zealand v India, 9 November, Guyana New Zealand v Australia, 14 November, Guyana New Zealand v Pakistan, 16 November, Guyana New Zealand v Ireland, 18 November, Guyana
New Zealand squad: Amy Satterthwaite (c), Suzie Bates, Bernadine Bezuidenhout, Sophie Devine, Kate Ebrahim, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Katey Martin, Anna Peterson, Hannah Rowe, , Lea Tahuhu, Jess Watkin