Sophie Ecclestone seals the deal as England skittle New Zealand in first ODI

England skittled New Zealand for 211 in 46.3 overs at Bristol to take first blood in the ODI series, winning by 30 runs despite being bowled out for an under-par 241 earlier in the day.

Put in to bat, England had sunk to 140 for five in the 32nd over. But captain Heather Knight’s calm, controlled 89 marshalled a recovery for the second time in as many matches, this time assisted by a streaky but quickfire 43 in 51 balls from Katherine Brunt.

“It wasn’t perfect but we’re pleased to get the win,” Knight said. “It was a slow pitch and it felt quite tough out there – we had to graft for our runs.”

Brunt said: “You have to be positive and for me, Heather at the crease gave me confidence in itself. My job domestically with Yorkshire, I’ve had countless times when I’ve had to go in when we’re 30 for five, so it’s not an unfamiliar situation for me.”

Knight plopped the ball back into the hands of bowler Leigh Kasperek in the 47th over, falling 11 runs short of a second ODI hundred. However, the in-form Knight went on to snaffle two crucial catches at first slip as what should have been a straightforward run chase for the Kiwis proved anything but.

The stage was set in New Zealand’s first 10 overs, in which they scored only 17 runs for the loss of two wickets. At that point Brunt’s bowling figures read, astoundingly, 4-4-0-0. Meanwhile her fiancee Nat Sciver picked up the key wicket of Suzie Bates, edging to first slip, before inducing Lauren Down to drive into the hands of Amy Jones behind the stumps.

“We’d had a meeting the day before about a target of ours, which included maidens – and being the competitive soul I am I took it upon myself to do it as much as I possibly could,” Brunt said.

Heather Knight top-scored for England with a knock of 89.
Heather Knight top-scored for England with a knock of 89. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Maddy Green had scored the lone boundary of the New Zealand powerplay, thrashing Kate Cross through the covers, but she was later caught at slip for 19. While Amy Satterthwaite and Sophie Devine shared a 78-run partnership in 16 overs for the fourth wicket, England continued to bowl disciplined lines. Cross eventually made the key breakthrough in the 29th over – Devine (34 off 59) pulling to mid-on.

Satterthwaite progressed to her 23rd ODI fifty, finishing unbeaten on 79. But it proved in vain as wickets continued to fall, including two in two balls from Sophie Ecclestone in the 32nd over to see off Katey Martin and Brooke Halliday.

Although the tail wagged – Lea Tahuhu (25 off 14) and Kasperek (15 off 21) thrashing eight boundaries between them – Kasperek’s eventual run out, courtesy of a direct hit from Lauren Winfield-Hill at mid-on, meant the visitors were bowled out still a way short of the target. Amongst the carnage, the off-spinner Charlie Dean finished with one for 53 on her international debut, bowling Jess Kerr with a beauty that turned to hit the top of off stump.

Earlier, England had put on 43 in the opening eight overs after Tammy Beaumont (44 off 75) was put down by a diving Green at first slip when still in single figures. But Tahuhu, returning to international action after undergoing three surgeries to remove a precancerous mole on her right foot, then inspired a mid-innings collapse, rattling the stumps of both Sciver and Jones to finish with two for 32 at an impressive economy rate of just a touch above three an over, as England lost four wickets for 31 runs.

An appeal to DRS by Brunt when she was on 12 prevented Tahuhu from celebrating a third scalp – UltraEdge showed Brunt, adjudged lbw, had got bat on ball – and she readily capitalised on the reprieve.

While Kerr (three for 42) struck twice in the closing overs, yorking Brunt before seeing off Dean lbw, a strong last 10 overs proved enough to see England home.


Raf Nicholson at the County Ground, Bristol

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