Sophie Devine scored an impressive 59 from 46 balls to lead New Zealand to a competitive 151 runs and set up victory by 22 runs over South Africa in the fifth Group B match of the ICC Women's World Twenty20 (T20) Sri Lanka 2012 in Galle on Friday.
This is the White Ferns' first win in the tournament after they lost their first match to the West Indies on Wednesday.
They lost two early wickets after being put in to bat by South Africa. Susan Benade was responsible for the successes in both instances, bowling out both Amy Satterthwaite (2) and Susan Bates (14) in the first four overs of the match.
After this shaky start, Devine shared a 94-run partnership for the third wicket with Frances Mackay (49) to put their side on the right track. A few missed opportunities cost South Africa the wicket of Devine, who was dropped three times before she was finally caught out in the deep by Marizanne Kapp off Susan Benade at the end of the 16th over.
Chasing 152 was always going to be a tough ask but the South Africans were determined to go for it.
"We thought 150 was gettable but as they say 'catches win matches' and I didn't have the best day on the field myself and we dropped Devine too many times and were punished for it," team captain, Mignon du Preez said.
They lost Shandré Fritz for just one run after she was trapped lbw by Erin Bermingham in the second over. Bermingham struck again when she had Trisha Chetty stumped for seven runs in the fourth over to put South Africa on the back foot on 15-2.
Susan Benade and Alison Hodgkinson added a noteworthy 38-run partnership before the former was removed for 24 off 16 balls including two fours and two sixes. Hodgkinson accelerated the run rate and South Africa slowly brought themselves back into the game. They did well to fight back but New Zealand's continuous wicket taking put a paid to South Africa's game.
Dané van Niekerk fought to the end, top scoring with a striking 34 not out from 28 balls. South Africa finished on 129/9.
A disappointed Du Preez is still optimistic of the team's chances of making the semi-finals.
"We're still in this tournament. If we beat the West Indies on Sunday, we're into the semis. I'm very happy that it looks as though the gap between the top four nations in the world and the bottom eight is closing. In previous matches we would be bowled out quite quickly but here we showed fight and lost by a smaller margin," she said.