Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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A strong 12-18 months in the lead up to the 2022 World Cup on their home soil has somehow culminated in New Zealand being the first top side being all but knocked out of the tournament. Amy Satterthwaite, one of the experienced players in the team who stood in for the injured Sophie Devine when they nearly defended 203 against England in another thriller in Auckland on Sunday, admitted that their batting had let them down in this campaign as it lacked a "killer instinct".'
New Zealand had put up totals of over 250 each time they batted against India in their recent bilateral series before the World Cup - and scored a whopping 191 in the rain-reduced 20-over fourth ODI - but they could not step up once the big tournament arrived.
It started when they failed to score six off the last over against West Indies in the tournament opener, and then didn't last the full 50 overs against Australia, South Africa and England to score just 128, 228 and 203 respectively. This means they are now all but out of the semi-finals race.
"The frustrating part is, I felt like we turned a corner against India in the series before the tournament as a group and we started to put some consistent totals on the board, around 260-270 and everyone was playing their roles superbly," Satterthwaite said after the loss to England on Sunday. "And obviously some things did not go our way. Today we felt like Sophie's injury [hampered them], we lost Lauren Down coming into this tournament, but I still backed the people that were in this line-up to produce bigger scores than what we have been.
"If I compare from the India series to this campaign, it's the partnerships. Against India we talked a lot about producing big partnerships: 100-run and match-winning partnerships, and if we look back across our World Cup games, I don't know the numbers on top of my head, but there can't be too many 80-90-100-plus partnerships. We probably got started and didn't really have that kind of killer instinct, and like I said, take it to those big partnerships that would have put us in a really strong position to allow our middle to lower order to really launch.
"That was something we did really well against India and our run in the last 12 months has been huge for this group. If we looked 12 months ago with our batting performances, like I said, we've made a lot of progress, the way we've played spin, the way we've been proactive using our feet [while batting], sweeping…That was really pleasing and probably at times throughout this campaign we let the bowlers bowl to us just a little bit and rather than taking the brave, positive option which we did really well against India. Unfortunately, in tournaments like this, you can't sit back too much otherwise you'll get found out.
"We'll reflect on the tournament at some point and if we're honest, batting is the thing that let us down the most and with the ball really tried to keep us in the tournament and we fought extremely hard and we can be really proud of that. But putting up scores of 200-220-odd against world class opposition unfortunately is not enough and we needed to find a way to get bigger totals on the board."
Sophie Devine's back injury didn't help matters for New Zealand•Getty Images
New Zealand, who won the ODI World Cup on home soil back in 2000, did get unlucky as well on Sunday when two of their top players - Devine and Lea Tahuhu - picked up injuries against England. Devine had to retire hurt with back issues when she was on 37 and New Zealand were in a strong position of 67 for 1. But by the time she returned to bat, her side had lost all the momentum and was hobbling on 155 for 6 in the 39th over. Devine added just four more to the score that stopped at 203 when they were bowled out and didn't field at all while Satterthwaite led the side in the chase.
Tahuhu, on the other hand, hurt her left hamstring while bowling her fifth over in the middle of a stifling spell, having dismissed Tammy Beaumont with an offcutter in the 10th over. Tahuhu couldn't return to the field after that which meant New Zealand were short of two of their experienced bowling options.
"In the moment you try and put them on to one side and focus on what you've to do that's in front of you," Satterthwaite said about dealing with the two injured team-mates. "When you finish the game and look back, they were pretty pivotal moments in a way.
"Sophie's injury at the time, she was looking outstanding with the bat and seemed to have it between her teeth and was looking to take the opposition on and the momentum that her and Amelia Kerr were building was really nice and we were at a great position. Unfortunately, it's never nice to see someone injured of that caliber, especially, it came at not a great time for us. At the same time, I would have backed our line-up to put a performance on the park and produce a bigger total than we did."
New Zealand will also rue how they could not close out the games they could have when they came close against West Indies, South Africa and England. They fell short of their 260 target against West Indies by just four runs, they went down to South Africa in the last over by two wickets while defending 228, and against England they were just one wicket away from staying alive in the tournament properly.
"It's never a nice position to be in when you're relying on other results," Satterthwaite said of their bleak semi-final chances. "Coming into today, we felt like we still had it in our control and it's pretty gut-wrenching to get that close and not get over the line. It's like you're standing on the edge of a cliff, almost out of the competition. You always hope that you can be on the other side of those results and the biggest thing for me is just proud of how the group stuck at it in each game.
"It's a funny thing about World Cups as there can always be some interesting results on the day and teams have shown how close the women's game is getting now. The likes of South Africa for me have been a team that I thought could be near the top of the world for a while now. They've got a really well-rounded side.
"West Indies on their day are extremely dangerous. We know the quality that England are, so you know you have to get a lot of things right when you are playing them and unfortunately for us, we've probably got 80% right at times against those teams and that 20% has really hurt us. Like I said earlier, really proud of the way that we've fought throughout those games and tried to stay in it."