Sports, Cricket

Knight inspires England victory

Published : 22 Mar 2024 09:31 PM

Heather Knight was again to the fore as she lifted England out of trouble in Nelson and into a position where the visiting spinners were able to squeeze the life out of New Zealand's chase to take a 2-0 lead in the T20I series.

At various stages it looked like the return of Sophie Devine and Amelia Kerr would inspire New Zealand to bounce back from their opening loss in Dunedin. But when Kerr fell having got the requirement down to an achievable 50 off 33 balls, the home side's middle and lower order fell away.

Between them England's three frontline spinners - Charlie Dean, Linsey Smith and Sarah Glenn - produced figures of 12-0-74-4. Dean and Glenn had earlier played key roles with the bat in partnership with Knight as they lifted England from 77 for 6 to what became a very impressive victory.

It did not take long for Devine to get back into the action after her delayed arrival in the series due to the WPL. With her first delivery she had the dangerous Sophia Dunkley caught at midwicket and later in the powerplay cleaned up Tammy Beaumont as England struggled for early momentum. New Zealand were well on top when Maia Bouchier toe-ended an attempted reverse scoop into the covers after labouring for 12 off 20 balls and when Amy Jones lofted into the deep off Lea Tahuhu it left England 57 for 4 at the midway point.

Things got worse for England before they got better as Danielle Gibson and Bess Heath both departed to leave them seemingly in a heap at 77 for 6 in the 14th over. But, crucially, the in-form Knight was still there and put together another superbly crafted half-century to follow her match-winning hand in the opening match.

Such was the way she was able to play alongside Dean and Glenn that, despite the problems England faced, 59 runs came off the last six overs which included Knight twice clearing the rope and Glenn finding the boundary twice in the final over from Devine which cost 18.