Knight 89 helps England begin ODIs with win; Satterthwaite 79* in vain

Heather Knight (l) and Amy Satterthwaite in action. © Getty Images

Ahead of the opening match of the five-ODI series, Heather Knight, England captain, spoke about peaking at the right time, with the World Cup in the horizon. Knight walked the talk on Thursday (September 16) hitting a classy 89 off 107 balls in the first ODI against New Zealand at the County Ground in Bristol. Amy Satterthwaite hit a fighting, unbeaten 79 off just 87 balls but lacked support at the other end as the tourists fell short by 30 runs.

Put in to bat, England got off to a smooth start thanks to Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield-Hill. The former creamed one square through the off side in the very first over off Sophie Devine to show how good a form she is in. Winfield-Hill then drove one through covers off Jess Kerr in the next over. Beaumont then repeated the stroke to Kerr while Devine was smashed down the ground as England raced to 30 in the first five overs.

Winfield-Hill, despite the lack of big runs, showed how pristine a touch she is in, by pulling Devine through mid-wicket for another boundary. The pair ran well between the wickets and looked set for a solid start before Winfield-Hill (21) nicked one behind down the leg side.

Knight then walked in and middled almost everything, including her forward defensive strokes. After finding the fielders with some crisply timed strokes, Knight drove one through covers for her first four. She then got one delivered on her pads by Lea Tahuhu, which she duly flicked through square leg for another four.

Beaumont, who hit 97 in the first T20I, continued her merry ways, playing some delectable drives off Kerr and then hitting Leigh Kasperek’s spin over mid-off. Just when it looked like she would cross yet another half century, she was trapped in front by Devine. It was given not out by the on-field umpire before a last-minute referral turned the decision in the tourists’ favour. Beaumont walked back for 44, ending her 65-run partnership with Knight.

At two for 109, it seemed as if the middle-order yet again will help England post a tall score, as has been the norm in recent times. However, a collapse ensued. Natalie Sciver (2), Amy Jones (2) and Sophia Dunkley (5) all got out soon to leave the hosts reeling at 140 for five. Tahuhu was at the centre of it, disturbing Sciver and Jones’ woodwork. In the interim, Knight brought up her 22nd ODI fifty, taking only 64 balls to get there.

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A solid, game-turning partnership between the England captain and Katherine Brunt then followed. Only nine runs came off the first four overs after the pair joined hands. The deadlock was broken when Brunt smashed Hannah Rowe past long on before slapping one in front of square on the off side off Tahuhu. Brunt was adjudged LBW by then survived by using DRS, after she appeared to have hit it.

England’s acceleration then began, with Knight and Brunt managing to find at least one boundary every over from the fortieth to the forty third over. The pair then hit a four off Devine and Rowe respectively to place England on five for 221 with four overs to go.

Knight then tried to target Kasperek, hitting her over mid-on to move to 89. However, the Kiwi spinner had the last laugh, catching Knight off her own bowling a ball later. Kerr then dismissed Brunt for 43 in the very next over to hasten the hosts end. England were bowled out for 241 with three balls to spare.

While Kerr picked three wickets, Tahuhu and Devine had two wickets to show for their efforts.

New Zealand’s response got off on a wrong note. Brunt bowled four successive maiden at the start, while Sciver managed to move the ball around and get Suzie Bates nicking to first slip for one. Lauren Down, who opened with Bates, was tied down and fell victim to another of Sciver’s outswingers, edging one to Jones behind for five. The tourists were two down for 17 after the first ten overs.

Kate Cross then got the ball moving and had Maddy Green (19) edge one to Knight at slip to reduce New Zealand to three for 31. That brought Satterthwaite and Sophie Devine together.

The New Zealand skipper looked in the mood, right away. She slashed Cross through front of point for a four, before timing one off Freya Davies pristinely through mid-wicket. Satterthwaite, on the other hand, first drove Davies through covers before tickling a ball from Charlie Dean, who became the first-ever player born in 2000s to debut for England, through fine leg for four.

Satterthwaite then swept one firmly through backward square leg off Dean before Devine cashed in on the width provided by the off-spinner. The captain and vice-captain of the touring team kept them in the hunt, running well between the wickets and finding the fence regularly.

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However, Cross played party-pooper in her sixth over. The first ball of the over was smashed over her head for four by Satterthwaite. But the seamer extracted revenge by dismissing Devine. A full, cross-seamed delivery outside off did the trick, as Devine ended up miscuing it to Winfield-Hill at mid-on for 34. That brought curtains to her 78-run stand with the former skipper.

Like in the first innings, a big partnership was followed by a procession. From three for 109, New Zealand slipped to 132 for seven. Sophie Ecclestone first got rid of Katey Martin (9), who top-edged an attempted sweep to short fine leg. The left-arm spinner then followed it up with an arm ball, that Brooke Halliday (0) couldn’t pick and was bowled.

Brunt, who walked out after bowling four maidens at the start, then returned to trap Hannah Rowe in front of the sticks for one to push New Zealand out of the contest. Dean then dismissed Kerr for her maiden international wicket, but was then hit for successive fours by Tahuhu. The Kiwi speedster was in the mood with the bat, hitting 25 off just 14 balls, giving hope to New Zealand. But a slower one from Davies dashed it all.

Satterthwaite then added 34 with Kasperek (15) to take New Zealand closer. But a direct hit by Winfield-Hill brought curtains to the game.

Brief Scores: England 241 all out in 49.3 overs (Heather Knight 89, Tammy Beaumont 44, Katherine Brunt 43; Jess Kerr 3/42) beat New Zealand 211 all out in 46.3 (Amy Satterthwaite 79*, Sophie Devine 34; Natalie Sciver 2/10, Kate Cross 2/37, Sophie Ecclestone 2/39) by 30 runs.

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