England allrounder Katherine Brunt was all praise for her skipper Heather Knight after a comprehensive 30-run win against New Zealand in the first ODI on Thursday (September 16).
Walking in at 44 for one, Knight added 65 runs with Tammy Beaumont for the second wicket, after which she had to witness a mini-collapse from the non-striker end with Natalie Sciver, Amy Jones and Sophia Dunkley getting out in the next six overs. That's when Brunt joined Knight in the middle with the score reading 140 for five in the 32nd over.
From there, they put up an 88-run partnership to help England get back on track. Knight missed her century by 11 runs, getting out to Leigh Kasperek in the 47th over. Meanwhile, Brunt scored a crucial 51-ball 43, taking the hosts to a competitive total and they went on to win the match by 30 runs, restricting New Zealand to 211 in 46.3 overs.
“She (Heather Knight) has got a great tempo and seeing games through to scores of what we want or what we need to chase down. Just having her on the pitch makes us a much better team," Brunt said at the post match media interaction.
Knight, who missed the first two T20Is against New Zealand, came back to lead the side to a win in the series decider. It was her 200th international match across formats for England. Brunt added that despite the struggles with the hamstrings, Knight is always so keen to represent the country in all the matches.
"Heather being Heather, she keeps fighting away, keeps battling. She is desperate to play every game for this team," Brunt said. "Sometimes, she doesn’t think about herself and her longevity as much and is just worried about missing games. We are trying to look after her and help her make the right decisions. We know when she does play for us, she is a match-winner."
After contributing a vital 43 with the bat, Brunt bowled four maidens on the trot with the new ball and came back for her second spell to take the crucial wicket of Hannah Rowe in the middle overs.
“There was actually a target of ours which included maidens. Being the competitive soul I am, I took that upon myself to do it as much as I possibly could. I could have had another over, but I didn’t want to spoil it,” she said about her new-ball spell.
Speaking about batting almost till the end of the innings and bowling with the new ball immediately after the break, Brunt said that it was hard to come in and bowl within 40 minutes. "You have got to gobble down as much food as you can in five minutes, and then you have got to change your kit and ice things. Then you have got to go and warm up for 15 minutes. You pretty much don’t have time to breathe," Brunt added.
“Being an allrounder is not the most fun. I absolutely love batting. I have always loved batting. Any opportunity I get, I try and take it, but having to come on and open the bowling as well is not always the most fun, but you have got to do, what you have got to do."