New Zealand's batting a concern
New Zealand's over-reliance on their captain Suzie Bates' batting skills will be their biggest worry going into what could be a knockout match against England at Brabourne Stadium. The day-night match could turn into a shootout between the two sides for a spot in the Women's World Cup final against Australia on Sunday, if West Indies were to lose earlier in the day at MIG Club ground.
Bates has made 307 runs, the most in the tournament, at an average of 76.75 with a century and two fifties. The next best for New Zealand has been Sophie Devine with 192, but 145 of them came in one game against South Africa, who are at the bottom in the Super Six. Devine got a poor umpiring decision against West Indies, but no other batsman from the side has even made 100.
Bates smiled wryly when asked about the team's dependence on her and admitted the failure of the other batsmen was a concern. "It is just disappointing that we perhaps haven't managed anywhere near as well as we can in this tournament," Bates said after the defeat to West Indies a day ago. "That is what wins you games, batters stepping up in the top five and scoring runs. If we want to be successful in this tournament, we have to step up with the bat."
The form of the New Zealand batsmen, barring Bates and Devine, assumes greater importance considering Wednesday's match will be played under lights. Both such games at Brabourne Stadium in the tournament were won by teams that batted first and posted huge totals. India made 284 and beat West Indies by 105 runs, and Sri Lanka made 282 and beat India by 138 runs.
Chasing under lights proved to be difficult for West Indies and India in those games, with the ball moving around consistently in the evening. That was in the group stage and pitches at Brabourne tended to get slower in the second innings as the tournament progressed, something New Zealand themselves experienced in their unsuccessful chase against West Indies.
If they are to overcome defending champions England, who have lost just three of their previous 15 ODIs against New Zealand, Bates' batsmen will have to overcome the tournament's most successful bowlers, Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt. They have taken 24 wickets between them: the combination of Shrubsole's inswing and Brunt's away movement and bounce has been devastating.
New Zealand's Amy Satterthwaite said England were a difficult opposition to come up against, particularly in a crunch match. "England have been world-class for a long time now," Satterthwaite said. "They have been at the top and have won consistently in World Cups as well. They are an extremely hard team to beat. We had a close win over them in the warm-up game but that was a warm-up game and people try different things in it."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo