New Zealand captain Sophie Devine said her team could take pride in the way they had come back to keep their Women's T20 World Cup hopes alive after they completed a 102-run rout of Sri Lanka at Boland Park in Paarl on Sunday (February 19).
"We've given ourselves a chance, even it's only a small, tiny chance," said Devine.
That they would still be in the reckoning for a place in the semi-finals seemed impossible when they were beaten by 97 runs in their first match against Australia and by 65 runs against South Africa.
But the White Ferns stormed back with an 81-run win against Bangladesh before turning on the power on Sunday, scoring 162 for three and then bowling out Sri Lanka for 60. "We spoke about scoring 160 even though it was a tougher wicket than Newlands (in Cape Town)," said Devine.
That was achieved through half-centuries by Suzie Bates (56) and Amelia Kerr (66) after Bernadine Bezuidenhout set the tone with an aggressive 32 off 20 balls. "We always knew 160 was going to be competitive and then the bowlers were fantastic," said Devine.
New Zealand moved into second place in Group One behind defending champions and semi-final bound Australia but will be overtaken if hosts South Africa beat Bangladesh at Newlands on Tuesday (February 21).
Sri Lanka, who won their first two matches, finished the group stage level on points with New Zealand but were eliminated on net run rate. "It was a tough day in the middle," admitted Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu.
"I have only a few experienced players in the team. We learnt a lot of things today."
The New Zealand batters went for their shots and ran hard between wickets. It was a performance that was in stark contrast to an earlier match on the same pitch when neither West Indies nor Pakistan could achieve a scoring rate of a run a ball.
Sri Lanka wilted under the pressure. Bezuidenhout and Bates were both dropped and there were numerous misfields. Set to score more than eight runs an over, Sri Lanka's chances evaporated rapidly.
They lost three wickets in the six-over powerplay before Amelia Kerr delivered a killer blow by trapping Athapaththu for 19 in the eighth over. New Zealand used six bowlers and they all took wickets, with Lea Tahuhu and Amelia Kerr taking two each.
New Zealand 162 for 3 in 20 overs (Amelia Kerr 66, Suzie Bates 56, Achini Kulasuriya 1 for 14) beat Sri Lanka 60 in 15.5 overs (Chamari Athapaththu 19, Malsha Shehani 10; Amelia Kerr 2 for 7) by 102 runs
Player of the match: Amelia Kerr