A brutal batting display helped England to a comfortable victory over West Indies in the second match of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023.
After Sophie Ecclestone had led the way with the ball to hold West Indies to 135/7, England made easy work of the chase, with Nat Sciver-Brunt top-scoring with a classy 40 off 30 balls and both Sophia Dunkley (34 off 18 balls) and Heather Knight (32* off 22 balls) also impressing.
Danni Wyatt did fall for 11 from 9, but England brought up their fastest fifty in a T20 World Cup inside five overs.
The power of England’s top three has been much-heralded leading into the tournament, and Dunkley lived up to her reputation as she tore into the West Indies attack in the Powerplay.
England’s women have never scored so fast in a T20 World Cup Powerplay as they did in Paarl, providing a clear example of their new uber-attacking style.
Quick between the wickets and with the range of shots to find the boundary at will, England’s top three fired them to 58/2 after six overs, with Dunkley the star.
The opener’s aggression and intent got England well ahead of the rate, and she was unfortunate to get out in the manner she did, smashing a ball straight back at the bowler that was brilliantly grabbed.
It was going to take something special to remove Dunkley, and Chinelle Henry delivered, snaffling a stunning return catch to send the opener packing for 34 from just 18 balls.
But the quality of England’s experienced middle order took advantage of the platform laid for them, with Nat Sciver-Brunt and Heather Knight easing England to victory with five and a half overs remaining and seven wickets in hand.
Henry finished as the pick of the bowlers for West Indies, taking 2/30 in 3.3 overs. Afy Fletcher also took 1/22 in three overs.
Earlier, decent knocks from Hayley Matthews and Shemaine Campbelle helped West Indies to a competitive total after winning the toss and opting to bat first.
West Indies were able to recall Stafanie Taylor after a long absence, but the veteran struggled for timing and fell for a 15-ball three in the seventh over. Yet with Matthews out in the middle, West Indies looked in great shape, with the captain racing through the Powerplay.
Ecclestone struck to remove Matthews for 42 from 32 balls, and a sharp run-out continued the flow of wickets, but Shemaine Campbelle (34) and Chinelle Henry (14) put together a partnership worth 41 runs in 31 balls to ensure the target would at least be competitive.
Some fine fielding and a solid combined bowling display restricted West Indies at the death, as they finished on 135/7. And that total proved insufficient to test an in-form England on the day.
It was far from a faultless bowling display from England, with some early tournament rust seeing 18 runs conceded in extras, including 12 wides.
But the world’s top-ranked T20I bowler Sophie Ecclestone stepped up to keep things in check.
Ecclestone picked up the big wicket of Hayley Matthews to stem the flow of runs at a crucial point in the innings and returned at the death to bag two more.
Her figures of 3/23 made her the pick of England’s bowlers, and only fellow spinner Sarah Glenn (1/20) returned a better economy rate in her four overs. Katherine Sciver-Brunt also took 1/23 in her three-over spell.
Hayley Matthews is a quality cricketer, but she needs more from the rest of her batting line-up.
When Matthews clicks at the top of the order West Indies will always have a chance, and her 42 from 32 balls ensured the game was competitive.
The skipper will hope that Taylor can rediscover her touch, with the 31-year-old looking very much like a player who has been out of the game for over a year as she scratched her way through the opening overs.
Nat Sciver-Brunt was named as the ‘Man of the Match’ for her 30-ball 40*.
Brief Scores: England: 138/3 in 14.3 overs (Nat Sciver-Brunt 40*, Sophia Dunkley 34, Chinelle Henry 2/30) defeated West Indies: 135/7 in 20 overs (Hayley Matthews 42, Shemaine Campbelle 34, Sophie Ecclestone 3/23). (ANI)