Photo Credit: ICC
Suzie Bates says she was touched to receive countless messages of positive support after New Zealand’s difficult start to the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023.
Having lost their first two games by sizable margins, the White Ferns needed a commanding win of their own against Bangladesh to keep their knockout chances alive.
Bates guided her team to a 71-run victory in Cape Town, smashing 81 off 61 balls to become the first player to 1,000 T20 World Cup runs, overtaking Australia’s Meg Lanning to move top of the list in the process.
While the former skipper was delighted to have kickstarted her tournament, she said the well-wishes she has received were more significant.
“I didn’t know that!” said Bates, when asked what she made of her achievement.
“I’ve been around a long time and am really disappointed with the way we started but that is the nature of World Cups, if you don’t turn up from game one you get behind the ball.
“That is something I will look back on and be really proud of, but right now it is a case of doing what we can with this team to get a semi-final chance because it is disappointing for us not to make the semi-finals, and it has been a long time since we got to that stage.
“We have kept ourselves in the tournament and I have had plenty of people that I have played with from over the years reach out and check in that I was okay, which is always nice.
“That is more important to me than the runs I score, just knowing that everyone feels it when I’m struggling out there.”
After being bowled out for less than 80 in both of their first two matches and facing a premature departure from the tournament, New Zealand looked fearless in Newlands.
Bates’s opening partner Bernadine Bezuidenhout was also among the runs, striking 44 off 26 balls, a tally matched by Maddy Green, who finished not out with seven fours from her 20 deliveries.
Veteran Bates was pleased that she and her senior colleagues raised their game when required.
“When you have had two low scores, it is really tough, especially at a World Cup,” she said.
“I think what pleased me the most is that I did exactly what we spoke about as a batting group and as a senior player of this team, and that was about stepping up.
“We had a tough day after the game against South Africa but we just talked about how we wanted to play regardless of the result and that was hitting hard and straight down the ground and I felt I stuck to that today.
“Although I would have liked those runs a bit earlier in the tournament, it is nice to bounce back as a group and have a really convincing win.”
Having lost each of their first three matches, Bangladesh will exit the tournament after their final Group A game against South Africa on Tuesday.
Their score of 118 was their highest against New Zealand in T20Is but captain Nigar Sultana believes they could have made it a much closer contest.
“I think we are capable of more than that because we scored 126 against Sri Lanka and we played good cricket against Australia,” said Nigar, when asked about her side’s batting performance.
“I think we gave away too many runs and that cost us, it put a lot of pressure on us going into bat.”
She was however delighted with the performance of teenage stars Shorna Akter and Nahida Akter: “It is great to have them in the team because they are very energetic and talented. They are showing their growth which is brilliant.”
Although it has been a difficult tournament for Nigar and her teammates, she reflects positively on the progress Bangladesh have made since their debut in 2014 and can now look forward to next year’s event which will take place on home soil.
“You can see the changes we are making,” she said. “The team is improving a lot which you can see in how we are competing in this competition.”