Ugly. That's the best way to describe how the White Ferns scraped past Bangladesh but at this juncture of the ICC Women's Twenty20 World Cup in Australia a win's a win.

Overwhelming favourites, the Sophie Devine-skippered New Zealanders were always going to treat the match as a mock exam against a winless Bangladesh but, regrettably, the 17-run victory at Junction Oval, Melbourne, went pear shaped on Saturday.

If the Kiwis had struggled against the India seamers in the previous three-run loss at the same venue, they showed their tactics against spin were just as iffy.

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In many respects, fans could be forgiven for thinking Bangladesh looked like the winners purely because of the incremental growth as a fledgling nation against a global top-six side they had never played before in any format.

"Shocking," said a poker-faced Devine after side stepping the potential banana-skin stage. "Obviously it's nowhere near what we want to play but I thought Bangladesh were fantastic in putting us under pressure on a really good wicket, so at halftime it had to be enough runs."

They lost but one can't help feeling the Bangladeshis were somehow the winners against the White Ferns at Junction Oval, Melbourne. Photo / Photosport
They lost but one can't help feeling the Bangladeshis were somehow the winners against the White Ferns at Junction Oval, Melbourne. Photo / Photosport

Opener Rachel Priest top-scored with 25 runs but had coerced Suzie Bates into using up the TV referral before departing to an lbw decision while trying to play across the line to captain Salma Khatun's spin delivery.

Devine (11 runs), Bates 15, Maddy Green (11) and the rest of the batswomen in single digits would have done little for coach Bob Carter's yearning for stability although No 5 Hayley Jensen's runout was unlucky.

Sticking with the same XI from the previous round had some merits but playing like that against Australia on Monday will be a calamitous end to this summer.

Devine revealed she had bumped into Carter at the interval and the new mentor had exuded calmness.

"He just said, 'Look, what's been's been and we've got to focus on what's coming up'," she said.

A glorious timer of the ball, it's becoming quite obvious the T20 diet isn't good for Bates' constitution. She had played across the line of a straight delivery to Ritu Moni under pressure.

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The Devine/Priest partnership had eked out 36 runs from 41 balls and the Bates/Green one 26 from one more delivery.

Worryingly it seemed the solution to countering spin was to bludgeon their way out rather than sweeping. Katey Martin got sucked in as well. The top four got starts but no one seemed intent on sticking around to forge partnerships. They had committed a cricketing sin in leaving eight balls in the bank after they were skittled for 91 runs.

As neutral spectators, there was a sense of admiration for the cricketing minnows squealing, skipping and stumping the favourites.

With some players who look like characters from the Harry Potter series, they showed urgency in fielding and a dogged determination to get under the pitch-wedge speculators for some brilliant catches, rather than stopping to let the ball drop to avoid the embarrassment of grassing it.

Captain Khatun was outstanding with 3-7 from 2.2 overs as the most frugal although Moni claimed 4-18 from four overs. Bar opening seamer Jahanara Alam going for eight an over, the rest of the rotation did not go above the 5.33 an over mark.

If India were New Zealand's game to lose, this time it was the Bangladeshis ' turn to botch the low-scoring affair.

Using an English interpreter from her camp, Moni revealed it was her maiden outing at a world cup but expressing emotions wasn't part of her bowling repertoire.

"We're very excited but we need to wrap up the game in our way," said the 27-year-old right-arm medium pacer before New Zealand skittled them for 74 runs with a ball to spare.

Lea Tahuhu took 10 balls, including four wides, to finish her first over but she'll have to iron that out pretty smartly against Australia on Monday. Photo / Photosport
Lea Tahuhu took 10 balls, including four wides, to finish her first over but she'll have to iron that out pretty smartly against Australia on Monday. Photo / Photosport

It didn't help their cause when wicketkeeper Nigar Sultana Joty retired when she gave herself an uppercut from the top edge of her bat from an Anna Peterson delivery in the 10th over although the side's top batswoman had returned to take her nine runs to 21. It was a nice touch from Priest to help remove Joty's helmet before the Bangladesh medics had arrived to cart her off.

Two-ball duck Fargana Hoque Pinky had vented her spleen at non-batter Moni after the latter left her stranded as Devine ran her out. That had summed up their batting frustrations.

Despite the batswomen's shortcomings, Lea Tahuhu started with four wides although Amelia Kerr had dropped opener Murshida Khatun on five at first slip as the veteran Kiwi opening seamer finished with a 10-ball over.

Opening spinner Leigh Kasperek also came under pressure from left-hander Khatun, which again had TV commentators brainstorming how the White Ferns didn't have any lefties in their equation in either department — something bowling coach and former Black Cap Jacob Oram had alluded to, according to one sportcaster.

However, the bowling attack had saved more Kiwi blushes with player-of-the-match Jensen (3-11) and Kasperek (3-23 from 3.5 overs), the most expensive at six an over. Kerr, the most frugal, Devine and Anna Peterson kept a leash on the batswomen at 3.5 an over while Tahuhu went for five an over.

Devine, it appears, cotton-balled Hawke's Bay seamer Rosemary Mair on account of Tahuhu's wayward bowling.

She alluded to learning from the Bangladeshis' straight-line balls to cash in on batswomen's mistakes.

Hayley Jensen again picked up the player-of-the-match award in bowling a disciplined line and length. Photo / Photosport
Hayley Jensen again picked up the player-of-the-match award in bowling a disciplined line and length. Photo / Photosport

Devine hailed Jensen's stump-to-stump approach and the tweaking trio's stifling drift and turns.

The Bangladeshis had shown against India they were energised fielders and went as far as upstaging the Kiwis in that department.

The Tigers didn't have the muscle to find the boundaries but they should have taken a leaf out of Pakistan's victory over West Indies although the former strayed from their strengths with average bowling, fielding and thoughtless batting in the loss to England.

Australia also have a better net run rate if inclement weather takes hold in pool A after India qualified when they beat New Zealand.

A grinning Devine agreed their batting needed attention but they were excited about securing their berth for the must-win clash against the hosts.

"We're looking forward to it any time we're up against the Australians, no matter what sport it is, it's going to be a big one ... "

It's unlikely Australia will read too much into New Zealand's hiccups against Bangladesh but it's imperative the Kiwi batting department post a respectable total to give their bowlers any chance of defending it — should Devine win the toss again and elect to pad up.