Opening victory a boost for White Ferns

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 05:00 03/02/2013

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Opponents beware. White Ferns skipper Suzie Bates says her side are riding high on confidence, after opening their World Cup campaign in India with a resounding 151-run victory over South Africa yesterday.

The statement result comes after a superb series against Australia pre-World Cup, and as pre-tournament favourites England were humbled by minnows Sri Lanka yesterday. The White Ferns play Pakistan in Cuttack tonight.

"I think the last few months we've played some really good cricket and we've had some success in 50-over and Twenty20 cricket, so the confidence is pretty high," Bates said.

New Zealand's victory at Cuttack was headlined by a superb ton from middle-order batter Sophie Devine. The 23-year-old slugged a stunning 145 off just 131 balls to notch up the second-highest score for a Kiwi woman at a World Cup after Bates' 168 against Pakistan in Sydney in 2009.

"It's obviously a huge boost for me," Devine said. "It's always been nice to spend time in the middle so for me that's probably the biggest thing.

"Hopefully now I can continue this form heading into our game against Pakistan and over the next couple of days it will be really important for me to get out there and start again."

She knew she had to consider herself back on zero, but with the confidence that she's in form.

"So looking forward to it, and hoping that the team can go two from two."

Batting first, New Zealand made an impressive 321 for 5 but were in trouble at 27 for 2 when Devine came to the crease. She and Bates (73) went on to combine for a 128-run stand for the third wicket.

Sara McGlashan (32) and Nicola Browne (40 not out) proved able lieutenants for Devine during her stint, which ended on the last ball of the innings when she holed out to Dane van Niekerk, off Shabnim Ismail.

"In terms of my innings, it was definitely steady at the start," Devine said.

"Both myself and Suzie found the pitch quite difficult early on. The ball was doing a little bit, and their bowlers bowled in really good areas.

"So we knew that we had to stick at it for a little bit and graft our way through the tough bits, and knew that we could set up a platform later on in the innings, then we'd be able to have a real launch later on."

In reply, South Africa never looked comfortable, losing their first five wickets for just 74 runs. Susan Benade (37) tried to rally her lower order but the White Ferns seamers were too good for the South Africans.

Sian Ruck was the pick of the bowlers, with 4 for 31 off her 10 overs, while Morna Nielsen claimed 3 for 34 off seven.

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- Sunday Star Times

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