Flamboyant Suzie Bates slammed an unbeaten half-century to help New Zealand get their Group B campaign in women's T20 event of the Commonwealth Games off to a winning start, defeating South Africa by 13 runs at Edgbaston on Saturday.
Pushed into batting first, Suzie enthralled spectators at Edgbaston with an unbeaten 91 from 64 balls, laced with eight fours and three sixes, at a strike-rate of 142.19 as New Zealand posted 167-2 in 20 overs, enough to give them crucial points in the competition.
She also shared a stand of 99 for the opening wicket with captain Sophie Devine (48 off 40), who also became the first New Zealand player to take 100 wickets in T20Is.
In reply, despite some big hits from captain Sune Luus and vice-captain Chloe Tryon, South Africa were unable to chase down 168, ending at 154-7 in 20 overs.
New Zealand's foundation for the victory was largely due to their two most experienced campaigners, Suzie and Sophie. Though the duo weren't aggressive early on, they intelligently handled any threat posed by the South African bowling attack.
But the Proteas got Sophie out just before the opening stand crossed the century-mark, with Nonkululeko Mlaba taking out the New Zealand skipper for 48.
Suzie, who appeared for New Zealand in women's basketball competition at 2008 Beijing Olympics, carried on with her charge and steadily increased the scoring rate to carry her bat throughout the innings.
She got good support from all-rounder Amelia Kerr, who was run-out on the final ball of the innings for a 16-ball 20.In the pursuit of 168, South Africa lost their opening pair of Anneke Bosch and Tazmin Brits in the first four overs.
While Anneke was dismissed for three by Hayley Jensen, Hannah Rowe sent Tazmin packing to the dressing room.South Africa simply could not recover from these early setbacks, meandering along in their chase.
Veteran batter Mignon du Preez (26) and her younger counterpart Laura Wolvaardt (28) steadied the ship, but could not keep up with the required rate.
After the duo fell, Chloe tried to change the tide by smashing 39 in only 17 deliveries but was run out at the most inopportune moment. Sune, who made 32 off 18 balls, tried her best to avoid the inevitable, but South Africa eventually ended up being short of the target by 13 runs.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 167-2 in 20 overs (Suzie Bates 91 not out, Sophie Devine 48; Nonkululeko Mlaba 1-33) beat South Africa 154-7 in 20 overs (Chloe Tryon 39, Sune Luus 32; Sophie Devine 3-37) by 13 runs