2 Apr 2016

Already a win for women’s cricket

3:53 pm on 2 April 2016

Sports Call - The White Ferns are looking strong as they head into the World Twenty20 semi-final against the West Indies this evening in India.

New Zealand's Leigh Kasperek bowls during the 2nd Women's T20 International - New Zealand v Australia cricket match at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.

New Zealand's Leigh Kasperek bowls against Australia at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The New Zealand women's cricket team go into the match at the top of their table after convincing wins, while the West Indies have been challenged, after being beaten by England in a one-wicket last ball nail-biter.

Check back to rnz.co.nz for a live blog of the semi-final from 10pm NZT

But history is on New Zealand's side. They have progressed to a T20 final twice, first against England in 2009 at Lord's, and again in 2010 against Australia in the West Indies, where the Ferns came within three runs of victory.

The semi-final is being played in Mumbai on an unfamiliar pitch for the White Ferns. The tracks in the sub-continent are low and slow - perfect conditions for the spinners.

New Zealand right-arm off-break spinner Leigh Kasperek is both the leading wicket-taker, with nine scalps, and the most economical bowler of the tournament.

The Scottish import will play a key role, alongside senior White Fern spinners Erin Birmingham, who has taken six wickets, and Amy Satterthwaite.

Sophie Devine is the highest-placed New Zealand pace bowler, with five wickets.

Devine will also play an instrumental role with the bat, along with Sara McGlashan if captain Suzie Bates and opening partner Rachel Priest are to fall cheaply.

But Bates has delivered a number of captain's knocks throughout the tournament.

She's currently sitting second on the highest-run-scorer table, with 171 - including 17 fours and three sixes. She leads the board with the highest individual score of 82.

New Zealand's captain Suzie Bates during the 2nd Women's T20 International - New Zealand v Australia cricket match at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Tuesday the 1st of March 2016.

New Zealand captain Suzie Bates in Wellington earlier this month. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Her opening partner Rachel Priest sits ninth on the table with 102 runs.

Bates and Devine also have the top spot for the highest partnership of the tournament, scoring 102 against Ireland. If Bates continues to lead in this manner, a player of the tournament award could be in order.

The White Ferns also have the largest total score of the tournament, with 177/3 against Ireland during the round stages.

Their male cricket counterparts, the Black Caps, only managed 153/8 against England on Thursday morning.

Confident but not too confident

While the Ferns should be confident in going into the semi, they shouldn't take their winning streak for granted.

The West Indies are unpredictable. They coax their opponents into a false sense of security through their (at times) laissez-faire attitude.

The White Ferns will be looking to target their wicketkeeper/batsman Merissa Aguilleira and big-hitting captain Stefanie Taylor, who has scored more than 35 runs in each of the 2016 World T20 games.

Windies all-rounder Deandra Dottin will also be one to watch. She made history when she became the first woman to score an international T20 century at the 2010 World T20. She was instrumental in securing victory over India with a 77-run partnership with Taylor.

Not only is Dottin powerful with the bat, her medium-fast pace bowling has taken seven wickets in this tournament.

The White Ferns shouldn't feel threatened though. They have vastly improved since the last World T20, where they placed fifth.

Under the guidance of coach and former player Haidee Tiffen, there has been a focus on getting the basics right, building team cohesion and allowing the women to play with freedom and expression. The hard work shows with results on the field.

While other teams, such as England and Australia, pay their women a professional wage and get the results, the New Zealand women are still not seen as a commercially viable investment by New Zealand Cricket.

Hopefully their display at this tournament - no matter what the result - will prove the old boys' club at New Zealand Cricket wrong.

Can the White Ferns do it? Absolutely. They just need to be shown that they are a priority by the country, New Zealand Cricket and the Black Caps.

It would be nice to see the men in the stands, now that they have some spare time on their hands.

Zoë George is a sport and music journalist. You can find her working on RNZ Concert's Upbeat programme and hosting international women in sport podcasts at wispsports.com. She has a background in cricket, as a player, international administrator, academic and journalist.

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