New Zealand thrive on bowling front
The problem of plenty. That's what every team hopes for going into a big tournament. Going by the first two games of their World Cup campaign, New Zealand Women seem to have one on their hands as far as their bowling department is concerned.
After thumping South Africa by 151 runs in their tournament opener two days ago, New Zealand made two changes to their bowling line-up going into Sunday's game against Pakistan. Sian Ruck and Morna Nielsen, the two most successful bowlers against South Africa with figures of 4 for 31 and 3 for 34, respectively, made way for Rachel Candy and Kate Broadmore. And both replacements made utmost use of the opportunity.
While Broadmore bowled an economical spell of medium-pace bowling, with figures of 1 for 15 off her 10 overs, Candy walked away with a rich wicket haul. Playing her first World Cup match, Candy was handed the new ball on a low and slow Barabati Stadium pitch, and went on to register her personal best: 5 for 19.
As a result, the New Zealand team management will have plenty to ponder before finalising their team combination for the last group game against Australia, which will determine the group topper. "We've got some competition with our bowling [department]," captain Suzie Bates said after their seven-wicket victory. "The way Rachel Candy bowled today, it's going to be tough to pick our bowling side. We've got the bowlers who can do the job."
Pakistan, meanwhile, would be wondering who can deliver with the bat for them, going into Friday's must-win game against South Africa; if Pakistan have to progress to the Super Six stage, they will not only have to beat South Africa but win with a big margin. And with totals of 84 and 104 in their first two outings, the task seems to be a little too difficult.
Pakistan captain Sana Mir remained positive, though, drawing inspiration from the past. "The tournament format is such that there's not much time to recover in between the games. But I am sure we can bounce back against South Africa," Mir said. "We have beaten them in the World Cup qualifiers and there's no reason why we can't do it again. It's just a matter of playing out the 50 overs. The day we can do that, I am sure we will end up on the winning side."
It was disappointing to see hardly any Pakistan batswoman putting a price tag on her wicket for the second time in succession. In the last game, it resulted in the bowlers' good work being undone against Australia, while today they failed to put up a total that could have put a formidable New Zealand batting line-up under any pressure.
Trying to explain the batsmen's lack of application, Mir said: "After the World Cup qualifiers, early on in the year, we didn't play any 50-overs cricket. And before the World Twenty20 [in September-October], we were in the 20-overs mould.
"After World T20 also, we didn't play any tournament or a bilateral series of ODIs coming into the World Cup, so that could be a reason why the girls are struggling to really apply themselves."
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo