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14 Apr 2024, Edition - 3197, Sunday

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Sarah Taylor helps England canter to seven-wicket win over New Zealand

The Guardian


On the back of a fine fielding display England’s women cantered to a comprehensive seven-wicket victory over New Zealand in a dress rehearsal for Sunday’s T20 tri-series final. Three impressive outfield catches and a nifty legside stumping contributed to the visitors falling 11 balls short of batting out their overs. Set 130, Heather Knight’s side lost both openers inside the power play but were steered to victory by Sarah Taylor and Nat Sciver doing as they pleased for 51 and 39 not out respectively. The win came with 25 balls to spare.

The White Ferns’ collapse of eight for 43 was fatal, especially after losing Suzie Bates for a duck in the first over. That was the first of Amy Jones’ contributions patrolling the boundary, diving forward to snaffle the opener to give Anya Shrubsole the first of her three victims.

Taylor, who with Sciver scored 81 of the 108 runs they needed to win when coming together, started her night with a standing reverse leg glance. It was not long before she was targeting the sightscreen at the other end with powerful drives in a half-century that took 35 balls. Sciver was more conventional but no less effective, muscling 39 from 31 deliveries, seeing the chase through with Knight enjoying an 11-ball cameo making 24 not out.

In the earlier rubber of the doubleheader Bates and Sophie Devine all but eliminated South Africa on their own in adding 130 for the first wicket in pursuit of 149. This second time round against the hosts, the latter added another half-century (52) but only two of her colleagues joined her in double figures. Even that should not have been so. Turning out for England for the first time on home soil, the zippy 19-year-old southpaw Katie George hit Devine’s edge with her first ball only for it to be put down by Taylor. But her first international wicket would come in her second spell, trapping Amy Satterthwaite (38) lbw to break her stand of 58 with Devine that set the collapse in motion.

Between times fellow teenager Sophie Ecclestone provided a moment of concern when turning an ankle minutes after trapping Katey Martin with her second delivery. The Lancastrian left the field in distress but was back to continue bowling later in the innings. A second wonderful diving effort from Jones got Shrubsole into the book again, this time moving fast and low to her right at long-on. Then, sure enough, Taylor redeemed herself from her earlier drop with her third legside stumping of the summer to stall Jess Watkin’s counterattack. Danielle Hazell also cashed in with two well-earned wickets as the Kiwi innings fell apart.

Stuck at the non-strikers’ end far too often, Devine moved to 50 in 41 balls before Sciver popped up for the third excellent take with both feet off the ground at deep midwicket, delivering Shrubsole her third wicket to end the New Zealand innings prematurely.

When the openers, Danielle Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont, holed out from the spin of Watkin, the visitors had a chance. But it was only a brief one. The sides now travel to the ground they call Fortress Chelmsford, where England have not lost a T20 in seven attempts. Having taken the points in three of four group games, and doing the double over New Zealand, the hosts enter the final as deserved favourites.

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