Photo Credit: ICC
Suzie Bates admitted she had to take some time to process her emotions before batting her side to a nine-wicket victory over Bangladesh on her home pitch.
Rain had threatened to spoil the occasion but 79 not out for Bates guided the White Ferns home in their chase of 141 in Dunedin when play finally got underway in what became a 27-over game.
The 34-year-old had never played for New Zealand at the University Oval and after a long four-hour wait before Bangladesh batted first, she was finally able to walk out to the middle.
“When I got out on the field, I was just fully focused on doing my best job and hoping the rain stayed away,” Bates said.
“And then as soon as the innings finished, I realised it was going to be a quick turnaround and I also knew there was going to be extra nerves and anxiety around first and foremost, being at home and just the way the day had panned out.
“So I made sure I got off the field quickly and just took some time to reset and go through my same routine that I’ve done all season, whether it’s playing for the Sparks or playing in a World Cup game.
“I did take an extra bit of time, so I wasn’t too overwhelmed when I got out there. But as soon as I faced that first ball, it just felt like home, and I knew it was a good wicket as it has been all season.”
Bangladesh had made 140-8 with Amy Satterthwaite’s three for 25 helping to restrict the Tigresses after a fast start to their innings.
There was a time when it looked like no game would be played, with the 11am start delayed until 3pm, but Bates got her fairytale.
The opening batter also chalked up another milestone of 1000 World Cup runs, doing so with her family and Otago Sparks teammates watching on.
She said: “Marina Lamplough was the head of the Sparks cheering squad and it was nice to see those girls because we haven’t seen them since they won the title.
“I had mum and dad and my sister Olivia there, so they were on WhatsApp this morning not helping my mood texting about the weather and I was like, ‘Not helpful’.
“I think they were relieved that they finally got to watch me play for New Zealand.”
Fargana Hoque Pinky led Bangladesh’s push for a competitive total and made her country’s first-ever fifty at an ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup and Bates believes more firsts will come soon for her opponents.
She added: “I thought the way Bangladesh started with the bat really put us under pressure and knowing how the day had panned out and they were put in to bat, how aggressive they were in that powerplay really put us under the pump – so great to see them play with intent.
“I’m sure they’re going to upset a team at some stage in this tournament.”
Bangladesh captain Nigar Sultana also reflected on Pinky’s half-century ahead of her side’s seven-day break before they take on Pakistan in Hamilton.
She said: “I’m very proud of Fargana because she’s getting her first half-century in the World Cup and the way she batted up the order there, it was brilliant.
“I believe that I have a good bowling and batting unit, and we have a good side and we are coming here to fight.
“We have already proven a lot of things, we did very well against South Africa, we have done really well as a bowling unit.
“Today, I think there were a lot of important things we did well in the batting also, two, three batters have done very well.
“I think we have the potential to do well, and we do not want to be disappointed, we want to look forward and we want to play well.”