Sophie Devine of New Zealand in action. Photo / Photosport
Live updates of the World Cup match between the White Ferns and South Africa.
Playing in 125 ODIs has taught Sophie Devine a valuable lesson about being able to banish the last match from her memory.
Which is a good thing for a White Ferns side who, for the second time in five days, are facing the biggest game of their World Cup – and desperately hoping this crunch clash goes a bit better than the first one.
Devine will lead out New Zealand at Seddon Park this afternoon knowing the last time her side needed a response – against India at the same venue a week ago – they produced it.
This time, facing second-placed South Africa, the White Ferns are coming off a chastening experience against Australia, whose record victory on Sunday left the hosts on the semifinal bubble.
If New Zealand wish to keep their prospects in their control and avoid the vagaries of net run rate, another response from Sunday’s thrashing is required. But Devine has also stressed to her teammates the value of a short memory.
“It’s something that as you get older it gets easier to do, because if you hold on to games like that they can certainly chew away at you,” the skipper said.
“Obviously you want to take key [lessons] out of a loss like that, but you also want to move on because the longer you dwell on it the more it sucks out of you. “
A 141-run thumping will do that to a player, though Devine stressed the strength of an opposition who had been “under a huge amount of pressure” after 30 overs.
That pressure was soon alleviated with some loose death bowling, which would be one lesson the White Ferns took from the Basin Reserve. And if Devine was willing to cast her mind back to the last time New Zealand faced South Africa, plenty more would be found.
In that series on these shores in 2020 – the only time the sides have played in the last five years – South Africa comfortably chased down three targets to complete a sweep.
New Zealand’s bowlers took only nine wickets to the visitors’ 29, providing an early warning about a South African attack that has shone at this tournament.
“They’re an absolutely quality side and we’ve seen that by their performances so far,” Devine said. “You look at them with the ball and they’ve got strengths all the way through their lineup.
“But we also know that we’ve got some great matchups and great challenges ahead. We know when we play our best cricket we can beat anyone.”
That, the White Ferns hope, will extend even to Australia, though they would be wise to avoid fourth place and postpone any rematch against the presumptive top qualifiers until the trophy is on the line.
England’s four-wicket win over India yesterday might have helped that cause, with New Zealand set to play the previously winless English on Sunday.
Defeat today wouldn’t be fatal, but two wins this week would all but guarantee the chance to make some happier memories deeper into the tournament.
“The girls are fizzed,” Devine said. “This is getting to the pointy end of the tournament now and we know the situation that lays ahead of us.
“We know we need to win and that provides some challenges and some pressure, but it’s also something that we want to step toward.”