The White Ferns have wrapped up their historic first bilateral tour of South Africa with a resounding 126-run victory against the Proteas Women in Paarl overnight to dominate the One-Day International Series 5-2.
After breaking through with a maiden ODI half century in the previous match, Katey Martin again top-scored with an impressive 81 off 72 deliveries to solidify the White Ferns' total of 273 for seven, after captain Suzie Bates had jumped at batting first on a stifling, 29-degree Paarl morning.
An uncharacteristically error-ridden start from the South Africans allowed the New Zealand top order to ease into its work and, despite neither opener Rachel Priest nor Suzie Bates capitalising on their starts, first drop Amy Satterthwaite (53) and Martin, whose career-best effort included 10 hard-hit fours, quickly settled things down to chalk up the New Zealand 100 by the 25th over.
They would find the boundary 17 times between them. After a brilliant Dané van Niekerk catch off Suné Luus managed to stop Satterthwaite shortly after she had posted her 14th ODI half century, Martin carried on to form an 81-run fourth-wicket stand with Maddy Green (46), a runout ultimately depriving Green of what would have been a maiden half century. Martin, meanwhile, would go on to earn her second player of the match award on the trot.
South Africa's leading assault weapon, the fierce right-armer Ayabonga Khaka, eventually got herself into the match with the wickets of both Martin and Sam Curtis, before Erin Bermingham blasted the first six of the match as the White Ferns finished off with their highest tally on tour.
In reply, the South African top order got off to a fractured start from which they never recovered. After a runout broke the opening stand in the sixth over, Lea Tahuhu zeroed in for the first of her two wickets before leg-spinner Erin Bermingham (3-18) went on a giant-killing spree through the middle, claiming captain Mignon du Preez (bowled on 18), Dané van Niekerk (a return catch on one) and Luus, whose dismissal left the South Africans lurching at 83 for six in the 26th over.
With the South African required run rate soon hopelessly spinning out of control, the White Ferns merely had to stroll through the rest of the innings to achieve victory in the tour finale, Satterthwaite claiming the final two wickets to push herself to the top of both the run-making and wicket-taking charts in the series.
The lithe Canterbury off-spinning allrounder can look back on a solid first visit to South Africa: she picked up her 300th run in the ODI series when she reached nine at Boland Park overnight, and had charged on for her third half century of the tour before she was caught. After having hit the ground running with 72 (retired) in the tour warm-up, the classy left-hander's deft strokeplay produced an aggregate of 344 ODI runs at a 68.80 average - her unbeaten 89 in the third clash proving the highest individual innings of the series.
When she bowled Moseline Daniels for her last wicket in Paarl, she also edged Holly Huddleston (10 wickets at 14.90) to become the side's top wicket-taker as well, with 11 victims at 15.72 - bettering even South Africa's Khaka, whose 11 wickets cost 20.81.
With their first ever two ODI victories against New Zealand, fast-improving South Africa has nevertheless reminded the women's cricket world that they are not to be treated lightly. Opening pace weapon Khaka particularly demanded respect - but White Ferns captain Suzie Bates was proud of the application shown by her players as they sprung back from two shock losses by patiently executing their gameplan to see off the likes of Khaka and milk the weaker elements of an uneven attack, and unsettling most of their hosts with the ball - often in uncomfortably hot, dry conditions that had been new ground to the vast majority of the tour party.
Stocks were strengthened for their possible 2017 World Cup squad with the aggressive Katey Martin, prodigious at domestic level last summer for the Otago Sparks, breaking through for her first two ODI half-centuries with back-to-back efforts in the final two matches; and 23-year-old opener Natalie Dodd's maiden fifty securing victory and a player of the match trophy in the pivotal fifth ODI.
More gratifying still, it was mission accomplished for the White Ferns without the considerable talents of allrounder Sophie Devine and wicket-nabbing off-spinner Leigh Kasperek, who broke her spinning finger as the tour got underway and will also miss the upcoming inaugural home series against Pakistan.
That series, comprising five One-Day Internationals followed by a sole Twenty20 International, begins at Lincoln University's Bert Sutcliffe Oval on 9 November and provides the final opportunity to confirm direct entry status to the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup.