New Zealand smashed Sri Lanka in Paarl in a one-sided ICC Women’s T20 World Cup clash at Boland Park.
Superb half-centuries from Suzie Bates and Amelia Kerr helped New Zealand post a sizeable 162/3 in the first innings.
And Sri Lanka collapsed to 60 all out as they went in search of a win that would have sent them through to the knockout stages.
The margin of victory means that New Zealand are now above Sri Lanka in the group and would qualify for the semi-finals should South Africa fail to beat Bangladesh in the final game in the group.
It was the Kiwis who won the toss and opted to bat first at Boland Park, and they made a strong start, with Bernadine Bezuidenhout the only wicket to fall in the Powerplay, departing for a lively 32 from 20 balls.
And Suzie Bates was joined in the middle by Amelia Kerr to lift the Kiwis to 75/1 at the mid-way point of the innings, before building towards a big finish.
Kerr was first to reach her 50, bringing it up off just 40 balls.
And Bates soon followed her compatriot to the milestone, making it back-to-back half-centuries for the experienced opener.
There was an injury setback for Sri Lanka when Achini Kulasooriya pulled up after the first ball of her third over, with the bowler stretchered from the field.
But Inoka Ranaweera stepped up in the final over to ensure New Zealand’s total didn’t get a late boost, dismissing Bates for 56 and having Amelia Kerr run out for 66, as the target was set at 163.
Sri Lanka knew that their top-heavy batting line-up would need to fire from the off if they were to pull off the chase, and they lost early wickets to hurt their chances of chasing down the target.
Harshitha Samarawickrama was first to go for 8 from 14, with Vishmi Gunarathne departing soon after without troubling the scorers.
All six New Zealand bowlers took wickets as the chase crumbled under the pressure, with the score at 40/6 in the eleventh over, and key batter Chamari Athapaththu one of those back in the dugout.
With any chance of a win having evaporated, Sri Lanka tried to cling on, but wickets continued to tumble.
And New Zealand wrapped up victory when Kerr took the ninth wicket, with Sri Lanka a player short due to Kulasooriya’s earlier injury.
The qualification scenario
Sri Lanka could have wrapped up a semi-final place with a win, but the margin of their loss means that they finish the group stage below New Zealand on Net Run Rate with both teams having completed their matches.
The Lankans are out, but New Zealand could yet go through depending on the result in the final game of the group.
The equation is straightforward:
Should South Africa beat Bangladesh then the Proteas would progress as group runners-up behind Australia.
But should South Africa fail to pick up maximum points in that game, then it would be the Kiwis who would go through to the semi-finals.
Amelia Kerr is a gem
New Zealand’s 22-year-old starlet is one of the top-ranked all-rounders in the game.
And she showed all of her quality in Paarl.
Kerr’s sublime knock of 66 came from just 48 balls to help set up a winning total for her side, with the youngster building a partnership worth 110 runs with Bates – a player 13 years her senior.
She took a decent catch to remove Kaveesha Dilhari, and Kerr was terrific with the ball too – finishing with figures of 2/7 from 2.5 overs.
What happened in the earlier game
Sunday’s earlier match at the same ground saw West Indies win their second game on the spin to deny Pakistan.
A thrilling final over saw Pakistan go close to reaching their target of 117 to win, but the Windies clung on as Hayley Matthews starred once again.
The result was a huge blow to Pakistan’s chances of qualifying for the semi-finals, and also guaranteed England’s progress to the knockout stages.