Ecclestone and Cross' three-fers, Sciver's patient innings help England keep semis hopes alive

Mohit Shah
20 Mar 2022
Ecclestone and Cross' three-fers, Sciver's patient innings help England keep semis hopes alive

Natalie Sciver © Getty Images

Defending champions England kept their semifinal hopes alive on the back of an all-round display from Natalie Sciver, who scored a patient 61 after returning economical figures of 9-1-27-0 with the ball. England’s bowlers dominated the contest for the second match in a row with Sophie Ecclestone and Kate Cross also picking three-fers. England won the match by one wicket in a thrilling finish at Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday (March 20) after suffering from a late collapse yet again as Frances Mackay's 4-34 helped New Zealand come back strongly in the match.

Devine flies out of the blocks

Even as Suzie Bates took her time to get going, Sophie Devine got New Zealand off to a fast start, bringing up the 50 in the last over of the power play. Devine negated England’s opening bowlers by batting well out of her crease and was aggressive from the outset as she seemed to carry on from where she left in the last match against South Africa.

Kate Cross provided England with the much-needed breakthrough when accounted for Bates, who scored 22 before Tammy Beaumont held on to a tricky skier. New Zealand then seemed to be in a spot off bother as Devine walked off injured while looking in regal touch at 37 off 42 balls after a suspected back injury.

Cross tightens the screws

After breaking the dangerous-looking opening partnership, Cross managed to completely rein the scoring in as she bowled a miserly spell of 6-0-15-1. Both Amelia Kerr and Amy Satterthwaite struggled to get the score moving, with Satterthwaite in particular getting stuck at one end.

All the dot ball pressure then told as Amelia walked back for 24 after top edging an attempting sweep off Charlie Dean only as far as Anya Shrubsole at short fine-leg.

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Difference-maker Dean

Having made the match-defining contribution against India, Dean continued to bowl an immaculate line and her ploy to attack the stumps paid off as Satterthwaite also fell on the sweep for a slow 24 just when Maddy Green seemed to be injecting some momentum in the innings.

New Zealand continued to err under pressure as a sensational piece of fielding from Sciver ran Brooke Halliday out for two as England slumped to 137-4.

Dean finished her impactful spell with figures of 2-36 and Cross then struck immediately after returning to the attack, getting Katey Martin for six after she tried to pull a delivery that wasn’t short enough.

Knight’s captaincy game was on point as all her bowling changes worked like a charm with Sophie Ecclestone also scalping Lea Tahuhu for a duck, with Knight herself getting involved in the action after intercepting a full-blooded shot at cover.

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Tahuhu’s departure saw Devine return to the crease but her stint was a short one as she lofted a powerful hit straight to long on at 41.

Ecclestone was expensive in her first spell but she continued to make inroads in her second spell as her and Cross dented New Zealand in the final overs to restrict them to 203 and end with figures of 3-35 - Cross’ best in the World Cup - and 3–41 respectively.

New Zealand’s innings ended in farcical fashion as Maddy Green, who was their best batter and waged a lone battle, was involved in a mix up with Jess Kerr, who was run out for 14.

Tahuhu rocks the chase

Danielle Wyatt got England off to a quick start by hitting merrily over the top but that approach led to her downfall for 12 when Hannah Rowe took an excellent catch while running back from mid-off.

Just like New Zealand, England also brought up their fifty in the last over of the power play but they also lost Beaumont in the same over for 25 as Tahuhu bowled her out to become the all-time leading wicket taker in ODIs for New Zealand.

England’s chase continued to mirror New Zealand’s innings as the hosts horror run with injuries continued with Tahuhu limping off the field four balls into the 16th over with a suspected leg injury.

Mackay magic

Once Tahuhu limped off, Knight and Sciver seemed to be in complete control of the chase before Knight threw her wicket away by trying to reverse sweep Frances Mackay at 42, only to miss the ball altogether.

England continued to give their wickets away cheaply as Amy Jones fell for one after hitting a full toss from part-timer Brooke Halliday straight to mid-wicket.

Sciver’s lesson in patience

Among players who have scored a minimum of 250 runs in ODIs, Sciver is number four on the list of players with the best career strike rate. But her innings here was a masterclass in patience and denial as she help up an end firmly in a match where England’s batsmen were guilty of reckless strokeplay.

Even as Sciver brought up her second 50 plus score, Sophia Dunkley played a breezy innings of 33 from 43 balls to keep the required rate under control.

Sciver could not see the chase home as she was bowled by Jess Kerr for 61 and England then suffered from a collapse as Mackay dismissed Ecclestone and Cross cheaply with her brisk, non-turning off spin in conditions with heavy rain. England's last wicket needed to get eight after Katherine Brunt was run out while going for a non-existent second. Mackay and Jess ended with four and two wickets each, conceding 34 and 36 runs respectively.

However, it was Dean and Shrubsole who kept their calm and saw the tense chase home as Shrubsole hit a full toss away and followed it up with fist pumps and joyous celebrations.

Brief Scores: New Zealand 203/10 in 48.5 overs (Maddy Green 52*, Sophie Devine 41; Kate Cross 3/35, Sophie Ecclestone 3-41) lost to England 204/9  in 47.2 overs (Natalie Sciver 61, Heather Knight 42; Frances Mackay 4/34, Jess Kerr 2/36) by 1 wicket. POTM: Natalie Sciver