New Zealand came into ICC Women's World T20 2018 as one of the tournament favourites, but bowed out early after underwhelming returns with the bat.
New Zealand, led by Amy Satterthwaite, were completely outplayed in a 34-run defeat to India in the tournament opener. Harmanpreet Kaur, the India captain, notched up a 51-ball 103 in a blitz of an innings to put the game beyond the White Ferns.
They then locked horns with Meg Lanning's Australia, but fell to a 33-run defeat against their Trans-Tasman rivals. New Zealand did well with the ball to restrict Australia to 153, but capitulated in the chase to fold for 120.
The batting remained wobbly in the next fixture against Pakistan, where they put up just 144/6. However, three-wicket hauls from Amelia Kerr and Jess Watkin saw New Zealand clinch their first win of the tournament.
The White Ferns were already out of contention for the semi-final when they played Ireland in their final group game. They dished out impressive returns in the fixture, as they first bowled Ireland for 79, and then scaled the target in just 7.3 overs with eight wickets to spare.
Positives to take home
Apart from the off-colour display against India, New Zealand's bowling was their strongest suit in the tournament. Off-spinner Leigh Kasperek, with eight wickets in four games, remains second on the list of leading wicket-takers in the tournament after the group stage.
Suzie Bates, No.1 on the MRF Tyres ICC Women's T20I Rankings for batters, was in fine form through the competition, with scores of 67, 48, 35, and 11. She accumulated 161 runs in total, just six behind the top-placed Kaur in the list of the highest run-scorers in the tournament. Wicket-keeper batter Katey Martin, too, batted responsibility and determination.
Areas to improve
The batting looked below-par in their first three hits in the tournament. The experiment of splitting the explosive opening duo of Bates and Sophie Devine did not pay off, as the team struggled to cut the knot at the top of the batting order.
While New Zealand continue to be a juggernaut in limited-overs cricket, they have lacked the cutting edge to make it count in the big tournaments – a problem they must try and fix as soon as possible.
Bates was New Zealand's batting mainstay, putting up formidable performances at the top of the order. She hit 17 fours and one six in four innings, scoring at an average of 40.25 with a strike rate of 119.26. She lacked the support she desperately needed – had another of the top few batters been in better form than they were, New Zealand's story could have been very different.