English challenge awaits White Ferns

The New Zealand White Ferns are getting ready to face England in the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Thursday night.

Having beaten Sri Lanka in a must win match on Sunday, the White Ferns finished second in Group B to set up a semi-final showdown with the top of Group A, England.

The White Ferns recovered from a first up loss to the West Indies, to comfortably beat both South Africa and Sri Lanka and ensure their progression.

Despite the initial hiccup, things are just starting to click into gear for the Kiwi side and captain Suzie Bates is upbeat about the team’s chances.

“We’re starting to gather some momentum. We didn’t start well against the West Indies and we really had to look at our game and make sure we’re executing,” said Bates.

“Although we haven’t played as well as we could have, there have been some real positives. I think we’ve been great with both bat and ball at times, but it’s just about finding that consistency.
 
“As long as we execute for the majority of the match then I believe that we can beat any team that we come up against.”

Considering the potential within the side, she should have high expectations. The return of Sophie Devine and Nicola Browne to the squad has added a huge amount of experience to the squad and both are potentially game-changing players.

Devine’s aggressive nature with the bat has already been evident this tournament, when she smashed 59 off 46 deliveries against South Africa. After a slow start, she went on to strike five fours and three sixes.

Browne too was impressive that match, as she took three crucial wickets in her four overs for just 13 runs. The fast bowler seems to be improving as the tournament progresses, while her ability with the bat shouldn’t be under-estimated.

In fact there are few players in the squad who are yet to have at least one performance of note. The top-order have all done their job at different stages and the bowlers are looking very comfortable on the Sri Lankan pitches.

All signs are pointing to a team which is ready put their best foot forward – and they’ll have to if they want to make it to the final.

England is undefeated in the tournament so far, with wins over Pakistan, India and Australia. It’s no secret that they have been the best side in Women’s Cricket for some time now and came in to the tournament as overwhelming favourites.

They will also be extremely motivated, having failed to make the semi-finals of the last World Twenty20 tournament in 2010. It’s hard to believe considering their domination since.

Players that the White Ferns will be particularly wary of are Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor. Edwards is a massive danger against any side and has an average of 55.50 in Sri Lanka so far. There are few situations which would be able to unsettle the English captain.

Taylor is much younger than her skipper, but boasts just as much talent with the bat. She is the youngest player ever to have brought up 2000 ODI runs and has an average of 32.75 in Twenty20s.

Let’s not get this wrong – the White Ferns go into the match as underdogs, but as Bates said, if the Kiwi’s execute well they can beat any side in the world.

England will provide the perfect test for this theory. 

The match begins 10:00pm NZ time and will be televised live on SKY Sport. It will also be live scored on www.blackcaps.co.nz.  

The winner of the match will face either Australia or the West Indies in the final on Sunday.

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