Wednesday, June 19, 2024

England vs Pakistan: Sophie Ecclestone breaks T20I record as hosts clinch series win with 65-run triumph

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Sophie Ecclestone became England Women’s leading T20I wicket-taker as they secured a series victory over Pakistan with a 65-run triumph at the County Ground in Northampton.

Unlike the opening match of the series at Edgbaston, England made the most of winning the toss in the first 10 overs on the back of a strong second-wicket partnership from Maia Bouchier and Alice Capsey, while the returning Nat Sciver-Brunt smacked 31 from just 21 balls as well.

A fightback with the ball from Pakistan in the second half of the innings though, which included Nida Dar becoming the leading wicket-taker in women’s T20Is with 137, saw England set the tourists 145 for a victory to force a series decider in Leeds on Sunday.

Pakistan never recovered from losing three early wickets though, which included 25-year-old Ecclestone taking her 115th scalp in the shortest format to set a new record for the national team, and succumbed for 79 as England took an unassailable 2-0 series lead.

Nida sets new mark after England start strongly

Having won the toss and opted to bat first, England made a flying start as opener Bouchier clipped the first delivery of the match away through square for four and ended up clattering 10 runs from Waheeda Akhtar in that over to set the tone.

Fellow opener Danni Wyatt was removed by Akhtar for just six at the start of the third over, but new batter Capsey soon set about her task and put on a second-wicket stand of 49 to help move the hosts into a strong position.

Akhtar in particular came in for some punishment from the 19-year-old as she plundered 20 runs off the fifth over alone, finding the boundary from all but the penultimate delivery.

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Pakistan bowler Nida Dar becomes the leading wicket-taker in women’s international T20 cricket with her 137th wicket.

Bouchier and Capsey’s partnership propelled England to 77-1 at the drinks break, but the former fell for 30 from 26 balls straight after the resumption of play as she went looking for a single only to be run out as cover fielder Diana Baig collected and threw back to wicketkeeper Muneeba Ali to effect the run-out.

Muneeba then had Capsey caught of Nida Dar for 31 in the 12th over to leave England wobbling on 76-3, but Sciver-Brunt, included as a specialist batter in place of Freya Kemp after missing the first T20I due to egg freezing treatment, wasted little time in trying to get the innings back on track.

That included a sumptuous reverse slog-sweep for four in the 14th over off right-armer Nida and was followed by Sciver-Brunt clattering three more boundaries from slow left-armer Nashra Sandhu in the following over to take England past 100.

Her resistance was ended with the first ball of the 16th though as she was caught by Fatima Sana off Sadia Iqbal and was followed back to the pavilion by England captain Heather Knight for just four the following over after she holed out to Waheeda on the long-off boundary from Baig’s bowling.

England v Pakistan - Second IT20 - The County Ground
England's Nat Sciver-Brunt bats during the second women's IT20 match at The County Ground, Northampton. Picture date: Friday May 17, 2024.
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Nat Sciver-Brunt cracked 31 from 21 balls in England’s innings

Nida’s dismissal of Amy Jones, caught behind by fellow wicketkeeper Muneeba for 18, in the final over saw her overtake Australia’s Megan Schutt at the top of the all-time women’s T20I wicket-takers list.

Danielle Gibson’s cameo 18 from nine balls, including two fours and the only six of the innings, and seven from Ecclestone helped the hosts to 144-6 at the close, though.

Ecclestone breaks England record as hosts clinch series win

Seeking to keep the series alive heading into Sunday’s third T20I, Pakistan found themselves on the back foot almost from the off as Lauren Bell claimed two wickets in four balls during the third over of the reply.

First, the seamer had Gull Feroza (3) caught in the deep square of the wicket by Bouchier and then a fine catch from Wyatt to snaffle Sadaf Shamas’ attempted cut off Bell saw the right-hander return to the pavilion without troubling the scorer.

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Sophie Ecclestone became England’s leading T20I wicket-taker with her 115th dismissal as she had Pakistan’s Muneeba Ali caught and bowled

Ecclestone needed just two balls to make an impact when she came into the attack in the sixth over, passing Katherine Sciver-Brunt’s record of 114 T20I wickets as she had Muneeba caught and bowled for 18, followed by fellow spinner Sarah Glenn trapping Nida lbw for one the following over.

A successful lbw review by Fatima Sana in the 10th over denied Ecclestone her second wicket as Pakistan reached the drinks break still needing 79 runs for victory with five wickets in hand, but she eventually departed to Glenn for eight after being clean bowled two overs later.

Player of the match Capsey then followed up her showing with the bat to bowl Aliya Riaz (19) with the first ball of the 13th over and after that there was little more resistance from Pakistan, with the right-arm spinner snaring the wicket of Baig for a duck as well.

Ecclestone then returned to mop up the tail and finish with figures of 3-11 from 2.5 overs as Pakistan were skittled out with 25 balls of the match still remaining.

What they said

Player of the match Alice Capsey:

“I found once I got in it was easier, it felt slow and low. It was about having our plans and sticking to them. It’s about adapting your game and playing different shots than your used to.

“I think I got a bit stuck in the last game and it’s about creating different lengths and being more proactive.

“I’m trying to work hard on my spin and it’s nice to get a bowl and take the opportunity when I can.”

England captain Heather Knight:

“Glenn deserves a special mention, the ball followed her today and it’s great to see that going into to Bangladesh.

“Ecclestone has broken records at 25 and she’s amazing at what she does, she’s handy to have and will be leading the chaser at the top of the pack soon.

“Being ruthless is something we want to be better at. For us as a team we want to nail that final game.”

What’s next?

The T20I series concludes with England and Pakistan facing each other at Headingley on Sunday (first ball 1pm), live on Sky Sports Cricket. The three-match ODI series between the teams then commences in Derby on Thursday May 23.

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