Knight’s fifty helps England beat NZ in second T20

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England captain Heather Knight has made half-centuries in her past three T20 innings
Second T20, Nelson
England 149-7 (20 overs): Knight 56* (40); Mair 2-25, Devine 2-30
New Zealand 134-8 (20 overs): Kerr 44 (36); Bell 2-24, Dean 2-28
England won by 15 runs
Scorecard

England captain Heather Knight made another half-century as her side beat New Zealand by 15 runs in the second T20 to take a 2-0 series lead.

England stumbled to 77-6 after being asked to bat but Knight, who made 56 not out, hauled England up to a competitive 149-7 in Nelson.

New Zealand were 100-3 but the wicket of Amelia Kerr (44) started a collapse of five wickets for eight runs.

They finished on 134-8 with Lauren Bell the pick of the bowlers with 2-24.

All of England’s frontline bowlers took a wicket, including left-arm spinner Linsey Smith having Suzie Bates caught at short fine leg with her first ball in international cricket since June 2019.

The next game in the five-match series is from 00:00 GMT on Sunday at the same venue.

England’s batting leaves more questions than answers

Coming into this series England probably knew five of their top seven for the T20 World Cup that takes places in Bangladesh from late September.

Danni Wyatt, Alice Capsey and Nat Sciver-Brunt – who will switch to this series from the fourth game after their involvement in the Women’s Premier League – are set to join Knight and Amy Jones.

Three players – Sophia Dunkley, Tammy Beaumont and Maia Bouchier – are fighting for the second opener role and all fell in tame fashion.

Dunkley (two) chipped to mid-wicket, Beaumont (19) was bowled after being trapped in the crease and Bouchier (12) played an ugly reverse sweep to cover.

There is uncertainty about all three with the former averaging 17 in her past 13 T20 innings, Beaumont back in the side after a two-year absence and Bouchier has moved up and down the order and is yet to settle into a role.

There are further doubts about who should fulfil the finisher role at seven too, with Dani Gibson (14) and Bess Heath (2) both failing to grab their latest opportunity.

Charlie Dean (16 off 14 balls) and Sarah Glenn (13 not out off six) offered resistance and valuable runs alongside Knight, who again played beautifully after a slow start, exploiting any width and loose balls on offer as England added 69 runs off the final six overs.

Bowlers build pressure to seal win

England’s efforts in the field will have pleased Knight and Lewis more, with a resilience shown after being put under pressure by the returning Kerr.

A superb throw from Glenn brought the early run out of Bernadine Bezuidenhout before the key strike of Bates, as New Zealand threatened to get away from England in the powerplay after some wayward bowling from the seamers.

Dean, who finished with 2-28, trapped White Ferns captain Sophie Devine lbw and that meant England could squeeze through their spin trio of Dean, Glenn and Smith and push the required run-rate up.

There was also good captaincy from Knight, with fielders often 10-15 yards off the boundary rope, minimising the amount of twos on offer.

The rising rate allowed Knight to return to Gibson and Bell and both used slower balls effectively, with the former having Kerr caught at short fine leg as the all-rounder looked to ramp to the boundary.

With Sophie Ecclestone to return and Lauren Filer, Mahika Gaur and Kate Cross all as options England are starting to develop real depth in their bowling.

‘England have burgled a win’ – what they said

England captain and player of the match Heather Knight: “I am really pleased because we were under the pump. They got away from us in the powerplay but the spin pulled it back for us. We won the game in the middle again.

“I felt like I struggled to get going a little bit. I found it quite hard. I thought they bowled really well and they made it quite tricky for us. It was nice to hang in there and go hard at the end.”

New Zealand captain Sophie Devine: “I thought we got ourselves into winning positions. We just missed a little bit at the end of the innings and again with the bat a great start and we let ourselves down in the middle. There are still some great positives to take.

“They got 20-30 more runs than we would have liked but we’re really confident in our batting group. We’ll need to have some honest conversations.”

Former England spinner Alex Hartley on TNT Sports: “England have burgled a win, they should have probably been bowled out for 120.

“New Zealand were the better side of the majority of the game but the depth and ability to win a game isn’t there for them.”

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