New Zealand Women v West Indies Women World T20 preview – Semi-final
New Zealand's batters and spinners have given the side an unbeaten run, while the West Indies' allrounders are keen to break semifinal jinx
30 March 2016 17:27
On Thursday (March 31) afternoon, two teams with batters more than capable of clearing the rope will face off at the Wankhede stadium, a venue that has been a bowler's nightmare during the men’s matches played earlier in the tournament. New Zealand, whose India excursion has taken it to Delhi, Chandigarh, Nagpur and Bangalore, has methodically dismantled its opposition while scoring at over seven an over all through.
“I've played Twenty20 women's cricket for a number of years now, and there have definitely been scores of over 120,” said Suzie Bates, the captain, who has led the way with 171 runs at a strike-rate of 116.32. “Bowling has been the strength for women's teams in the past, but there’s definitely a chance for the women's game to be scoring over six and seven [an over]. We just need to be playing more and on pitches that spin a little less.”
Now, on what has been a pristine batting surface, others like Rachel Priest, Sophie Devine, Amy Satterthwaite and Sara McGlashan could also come to the fore, having already shown encouraging signs earlier in the competition. “We've actually been pretty fortunate with the grounds we've played on,” said Bates. “The wickets have been great to bat on and we've shown that with some of our scores.
“I've heard that Mumbai is a good batting track, but we haven't played here before. So, just really excited. Hopefully, it's fast and has a bit of pace on it.”
It’s the bowlers who have taken pace off the ball that have starred for New Zealand thus far though. Leigh Kasperek, with her roots in Scotland, has taken nine wickets with her offspin, at a ridiculous economy rate of 3.93. Erin Bermingham’s legbreaks have caused almost as much devastation, with six wickets costing just nine apiece.
Ranged against New Zealand’s batting might is a West Indies attack that restricted both Pakistan and Bangladesh to 99, and suffered a last-ball defeat to England while defending just 109. In the decisive final game against India, the West Indies managed only 114, but the bowling and fielding were sprightly enough to stop the hosts three short.
“I am pretty much confident in my bowling attack,” said Taylor, who is as economical with her words as Darren Sammy is generous. “I think when you look at the bowling attack that I have, it might be one of the best in this tournament. So any total we have, my bowlers will actually defend that.”
Like Bates, Taylor has led from the front with bat in hand, aggregating 162 across four innings, and the strike-rate (89.5) is more a reflection of the pitches that they’ve played on than any conservatism in her approach. She has also chipped in with five wickets.
Taylor top-scored with 40 in the 56-run semifinal loss to New Zealand in St Lucia in 2010, and she has bitter memories of two other last-four losses as well. On both occasions, in Colombo and Dhaka, Australia was the opponent. “This time around, it is not against Australia, that's a plus for us,” she said with the merest hint of a smile. “This time, we definitely want to cross this barrier. I think we have been here [too] many times not to know how to actually approach it.”
In addition to being full of runs, the Wankhede also affords more pace and bounce for the quicker bowlers, though Taylor suggested that her pacers wouldn’t be getting carried away. “I think Shamilia Connell is a fantastic fast bowler,” she said. “With her height and build really, she could definitely give you some pace and some bounce. I think for us, it’s more about assessing the pitch and moving on from there.”
New Zealand, with nine wins from its last ten T20 matches, is the form side in the competition. It hasn't reached the final since 2010 in the Caribbean, and it will need to overcome some formidable all-round talent to get there again.
“I think it is definitely beneficial to the team when you have allrounders,” said Taylor. “I am an allrounder. You have Hayley Matthews. Shaquana Quintyne is an allrounder. It’s actually good to have players that double up. I think it is more beneficial to the team.”
In Dhaka two years ago, the West Indies fell eight runs short in the semifinal. The two captains who have played such pivotal roles in their sides’ campaigns could well be instrumental in deciding which of them goes on to a shot at glory, in a tournament that has only ever been won by England and Australia.
West Indies (from): Hayley Matthews, Stafanie Taylor (capt), Kyshona Knight, Shaquana Quintyne, Deandra Dottin, Stacy-Ann King, Shemaine Campbelle, Merissa Aguilleira (wk), Shamilia Connell, Afy Fletcher, Anisa Mohammad, Shakera Salman, Britney Cooper, Kycia Knight, Tremayne Smartt.
New Zealand (from): Suzie Bates (captain), Rachel Priest (wk), Sophie Devine, Sara McGlashan, Amy Satterthwaite, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Leigh Kasperek, Lea Tahuhu, Morna Nielsen, Erin Bermingham, Felicity Leydon-Davis, Thamsyn Newton, Hannah Rowe.