Clinical England ease past Pakistan as Heather Knight, spinners star


England 158 for 7 (Knight 62, Aiman Anwer 3-30) beat Pakistan 116 (Shrubsole 3-25, Glenn 3-15) by 42 runs

England took a stride towards qualification from Group B of the Women’s T20 World Cup by thrashing Pakistan in Canberra.

After surprisingly being inserted by Pakistan’s skipper Bismah Maroof, England overcame an early stutter thanks primarily to captain Heather Knight, who continued her fine form in this tournament and at Manuka Oval with a fluent, 47-ball 62, with Nat Sciver and Fran Wilson keeping things ticking over.

Pakistan were slipshod in the field, dropping several chances, and struggled to get going in reply, with Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt providing early breakthroughs before young spinners Sarah Glenn and Sophie Ecclestone strangled the chase in the middle overs.

Defeat leaves Pakistan needing to win their last two group games to stand a realistic chance of qualification, while England know that victory against West Indies in their final fixture should be enough for them to get through.

England’s opening muddle

Danni Wyatt and Amy Jones are under pressure at the top of the order, having made a combined 25 runs against South Africa and then both registering ducks against Thailand on Wednesday.

Both players were successful in the series between these teams in Malaysia at the end of last year, with Jones finishing as top run-scorer with 179 in three games, but they failed to rekindle that form in Canberra. Jones fell in the game’s first over, trapped on the pad as Diana Baig found a hint of seam movement with the new ball, and a review confirmed that the ball would have clipped the bails.

Wyatt, meanwhile, enjoyed an early reprieve, spooning a chance up to Baig at point, who lost the ball in the low sun, but there was no mistake when she offered a similar opportunity to Muneeba Ali in that position at the start of the sixth over. While England’s long batting line-up has bailed them out in their last two games, the openers’ struggles will be a cause for concern.

Knight’s Canberra love affair

Knight’s imperious hundred against Thailand on this ground made her the first English player – male or female – to score make a century in all three formats, and continued her incredible streak with the bat on this ground. Coming into this game, she had 304 runs in her last four T20I innings at Manuka Oval, and that run continued against Pakistan.

Coming in at the end of the powerplay, Knight regularly found the boundary, using her feet well and adapting better than any batter on either side to a slow, used surface. She dumped Nida Dar – playing her 100th T20I – over long-on for England’s only six of the innings, and while she holed out at the end of the 19th looking to repeat the trick, the damage had been done.

Pakistan were left to rue their poor performance in the outfield: Umaima Sohail had a straightforward chance underneath a high ball from Knight on 32, but it bursts through her hands for a one-bounce four after she misjudged the distance on it, striding in off the rope before backpedalling.

Stunning Sidra

While Pakistan outfielding left plenty to be desire, their wicketkeeper Sidra Nawaz was superb behind the stumps.

At the start of the 12th over, she pulled off perhaps the stumping of the tournament, as Aliya Riaz strayed down the leg side to Sciver. Standing up to the medium-pacer, and mis-sighted as Sciver looked to whip into the leg side, Nawaz took the ball brilliantly down the leg side, held the ball momentarily as Sciver weight-transfer forward took her back leg out of the crease, and whipped off the bails to complete the dismissal.

There was more sharp work in the final over, as her quick hands accounted for Katherine Brunt dancing down the pitch, and despite dropping a tricky chance off Fran Wilson, Nawaz’s performance behind the stumps stood out, in particular her ability to prevent England from using their feet against medium pace by standing up to the seamers.

Spinners star

England derailed Pakistan’s run chase early on with Shrubsole and Brunt both striking in the powerplay, but it was their spinners who turned a strong position into a dominant one. Operating primarily through the middle overs, Ecclestone and Glenn turned the screw, offering very little width as they targeted the stumps.

Glenn got the key wicket of Javeria Khan with her third ball, responding to an inside-out cover drive by holding her nerve with a similarly straight one, which the batter played all around.

The pair then turned the screw in the middle, keeping things simple with tight stump-to-stump plans, and finished with a combined 5 for 27 across their eight overs. Not bad, for a pair of 20-year-olds.

Shrubsole’s landmark

While the game was dead as a contest by the time Shrubsole returned for her final over in the 19th, but there was still plenty to play for in terms of personal milestones.

A back-of-a-length slower ball off her penultimate ball left the seamer a wicket away from the 100-wicket milestone in T20Is, and when she induced a tame chip back down the pitch from Baig, Shrubsole clung onto the chance to become only the third woman to reach the landmark, following West Indies’ Anisa Mohammed and Australian Ellyse Perry.

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