Frankly speaking, there’s not an awful lot at stake for South Africa during what has been a comprehensive performance in the NZW v SAW 2020 series.
It’s the hosts who have faced the heat in two back-to-back games. In fact, will it be wrong to quote that the White Ferns seem to have hit a rough patch where the ODI format is concerned? Of their last 3 ODI outings, only one contest has resulted in a win for the current hosts, who unquestionably find themselves facing a tricky situation.
Not that the White Ferns cannot avoid a defeat in the final ODI, soon to undergo live at Hamilton’s Seddon Park, it’s just that the momentum seems to clearly be with the visiting Proteas unit, one led brilliantly thus far by Niekerk.
So far the way the series has panned out, despite New Zealand fielding talents who hardly need an introduction, in the form of Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine, Katie Perkins, and Amelia Kerr (to quote some of them), comprising a leader in a talent of Sophie Devine’s caliber, the series has carried a signature of Protean ruling.
It is expected that the final contest of the series, dead-rubber in the context of the Proteas women who’ve already clinched the contest, can spur something special from New Zealand. And truthfully speaking, the home side could definitely use a win, if truth be told, considering the woeful run of the men’s unit in the 3 T20s held thus far.
So can that happen at Seddon Park, Hamilton, venue for the third and final contest between NZW vs SAW 2020 ODI series?
The ball travels far and wide when it is aced by the brute power and timing of one of the most exceptional strokemakers in the current game. That bowlers dread meeting the blunt blade of Lizelle Lee is just as evident as the smile the right-hander’s batting brings to doting Protea fans, legions of which are spread around the world.
On top of that, the fact that Lee- with an experience of 81 ODIs, 2 tons, 18 fifties- has already signaled her intent in the contests through scored of an unbeaten 99 (1st ODI) and 38 pretty much indicates what the White Ferns could expect in this last game.
Truth be told, that her familiar batting partner, Laura Wolvaardt, who teed off the series with a fantastic and unbeaten 91, only increases the pressure on a side that’s desperately looking to avoid the embarrassment of suffering a whitewash.
In both contexts- whether Niekerk’s women can emerge with a clear 3-nil series win and if they can exert more pressure on the Kiwi bowling in this NZW vs SAW 2020 series, it’ll be exciting to watch Lizelle Lee’s batting.
For someone who struck a career-best and vital 78 off just 83 balls in the opening ODI of the series- at a time where there was no stopping Klaas and Ismail- it hasn’t been too inspiring to note that Katie Perkins ended up with 1 in the very next game.
That it was also determinant of the hosts’ fortunes in the NZW vs SAW 2020 series was all the more problematic for the White Ferns. But surely, Perkins, with an experience of 69 ODIs and 4 ODI fifties against her name would want to sign off this series with a high.
There’s technically nothing wrong where the batting form of Bates- 38 and 53- serves an example.
Someone who’s been stationed at the number three position, ever important in the batting context of any side anywhere in the world, the fans would hope for a big one from one of New Zealand’s finest modern-age talents, a giant in her own right.
That Bates’ remarkable all-round stats, marked with impact and experience hardly leave a doubt about her ability, if there’s something that her team would want would be for another batswoman to hang in there; perhaps lead the charge or support Suzie Bates in the team’s bid to defy South Africa the whitewash.
But is it too late?
If there’s someone who can lend an impact, albeit in the only game that’s remaining in the NZW vs SAW 2020 series then it’s Holly Huddleston. For someone who clinched 10 wickets the last time that the two sides were embroiled in a bi-lateral saga, it was Huddleston’s effective, wicket-taking spells that crushed the Protean hopes, back in 2016.
Thus far, it’s been a less than overwhelming series for one of the White Ferns’ most reliable and solid medium pace options. Only also reckons, whether Devine, Bates and Huddleston, a trio that constitutes 199 wickets has been at its optimal best as seen in the series?
Surely, the experienced limited-overs campaigner can strike back with a wicket or two, hopefully, in the final contest to swing the pendulum in NZ’s favor.
World cricket blooms when Marizanne Kapp roars in and delivers an unplayable one, something which happens quite often and to good effect. One could ask the White Ferns, as fresh evidence from their last bashing at the hands of South Africa would reveal that ‘Kappie’, as she’s called lovingly, emerged with 4 of the Kiwis’ 10 wickets, thus taking the game completely away from the Devine-led side.
Can Kapp- who went wicketless in the first game only to come back stronger- effect more dismissals and shape the game in her team’s favor. It’s a matter of time, the Proteas Women will get to know. But surely, one of the game’s most talented and highly respected all-rounders will play a key part in the final NZW vs SAW 2020 ODI.