Cricket: White Ferns snatch tense victory over England to keep Twenty20 series alive

Part-time bowler Suzie Bates has delivered a tense White Ferns win over England to keep their Twenty20 series alive at Nelson's Saxton Oval.

With England needing eight runs for victory, NZ skipper Sophie Devine tossed the ball to Bates for her first and only over of the match, and she took the wicket of Hollie Armitage with her first ball, conceded four runs off her next three balls and a dot ball with her penultimate delivery.

Still needing four runs off the last ball, Charlie Dean charged down the pitch, but completely missed with her wild heave and was stumped by Ferns wicketkeeper Izzy Gaze to complete a thrilling two-wicket win for the home side.

Suzie Bates celebrates a wicket against England.
Suzie Bates celebrates a wicket against England. Photo credit: Photosport

"It was actually probably slightly my fault," admitted Bates. "We were talking about trying to bowl our best bowlers first and not leaving them at the end.

"We bowled Fran out, we bowled Melie out, we bowled Soph and 'Rocko' out, and I was thinking, 'If it gets to the last, we may have to take pace off'. I had about four overs to mentally prepare and warm the shoulder up."

New Zealand put themselves in a strong position, when they won the toss and chose to bat first, with Bates and Bernadine Bezuidenhout compiling 44 runs for the first wicket.

Bates was the first to fall and Bezuidenhout followed soon after, but Devine and Melie Kerr ensured there would be no collapse, putting on 99 runs for the third wicket. Devine was at her combative best, with 60 off 37 balls, including five boundaries and two sixes.

She was eventually caught by Heath Knight, off Danielle Gibson's bowling, with one ball remaining in the innings, while Kerr played the anchor role, unbeaten on 44 from 35 balls. 

England's chase began shakily, with a one-run over from Rosemary Mair and the run out of Sophia Dunkley in the second over.

Tammy Beaumont and Maia Bouchier began to pull the match back to the tourists, with 92 runs off 61 balls. Beaumont was caught by Devine, off Hannah Rowe, for 37.

Bouchier took to the bowling, with 11 boundaries and a six in her 71 runs, as England brought the target back to a run a ball, but when she departed, the batting order began to wobble, as they lost six wickets for 25 runs.

Captain Heather Knight was run out by Kerr, who then clean bowled wicketkeeper Amy Jones. Devine had Bess Heath caught by Maddie Green in the penultimate over, which ended with a wide delivery down legside that went uncalled, to the bewilderment of Gibson and the relief of Devine.

That set up Bates' heroics.

"She was chirping in my ear from about the 12th over onwards, saying, 'If you need me, I'm here'," insisted Devine. "That's experience for you and being able to call on her to bowl a pretty clutch over with a bit of pace off, we knew it would be the hardest thing to take on.

Sophie Devine hits out against England.
Sophie Devine hits out against England. Photo credit: Photosport

"It's nice to have a Suzie Bates in your team."

After two opening defeats, the result keeps the five-match series alive, as the teams head to Wellington's Basin Reserve on Wednesday. Devine takes heart from the performance.

"We showed a bit of resilience and guts to stick with it," said Devine. "They looked like they were cruising with 6-7 overs to go, they had wickets in hand and it was only a run a ball.

"For us to stick with it, we showed a bit of ticket, which is really pleasing. We know cricket's a funny game and things can change pretty quickly.

"To stick at it and get the reward is really pleasing."

New Zealand 155/3 (Devine 60, M Kerr 44no, Bezuidenhout 34; Gibson 2/22) England 152/8 (Bouchier 71, Beaumont 37; Devine 2/23. Bates 2/4)