MATCH REPORT: England v Pakistan
England revived their World Cup dreams today at Leicester in an utterly dominant display against Pakistan, racking up their highest ever World Cup score (377-7) and eventually winning by 107 runs (D/L method).
It was a day to remember for England’s Natalie Sciver (137) and Heather Knight (106), who both reached their maiden ODI centuries. Meanwhile Pakistani captain Sana Mir was left ruing her decision to insert England after winning the toss.
Unusually for the Pakistanis, they opened with pace bowling from both ends, and both Kainat Imtiaz and Asmavia Iqbal began well, putting the England batsmen under pressure from the off. Sarah Taylor, opening once again in place of the injured Lauren Winfield, struck a beautiful cover drive but was unable to push on, taken by surprise by a straight ball from Imtiaz and trapped LBW. Beaumont, meanwhile, was dropped by Nain Abidi at slip off the first ball of the game, and never recovered, edging a wide ball to Sidra Nawaz behind the stumps when on 14.
At 48-2 after 10 overs, England were in some trouble, but the entrance of Nat Sciver set the tone for the rest of the innings. The hard-hitting Sciver batted with intent from the start, attacking the Pakistani spinners with relish, and hitting four huge sixes in a demonstration of the firepower she brings to England’s batting line-up. Her century seemed inevitable almost from ball one, and so it proved, brought up in just 76 balls - the fastest ever hundred by an Englishwoman at a World Cup.
Knight was hesitant at first and struggled to get the ball off the square, with a 65-ball fifty to match Sciver’s 35-ball one, but she grew increasingly confident as the partnership progressed, and pushed on to her first international hundred since the famous 157 at Wormsley back in August 2013. The home crowd, which totalled 2169 including several hundred local school children, had much to shout about.
By the time England’s captain was dismissed for 106 in the 40th over, the pair had shared a 213-run partnership, equalling the record 3rd-wicket stand for England in ODIs.
Sciver fell for 137 in the next over, but England’s domination of the Pakistani attack continued unabated, as Fran Wilson and Danielle Wyatt shared a quickfire 50-run partnership in 30 balls to ensure England made it to their second highest ever total in ODIs.
Pakistani bowler Nashra Sandhu, meanwhile, finished with the unhappy distinction of the worst ever bowling figures in a World Cup match, conceding 82 runs across her 10 overs.
England’s was an imposing total, and one which Iqbal admitted after close of play was never seriously pursued by her team: “We knew that it was impossible for us to chase. We are not so powerful like them, and we have no big hitters.” While Pakistani opener Ayesha Zafar fought valiantly, finishing on 56*, her side were over 100 runs short of the DLS par score by the time the weather intervened at 4.30pm.
England, so dominant with the bat, will also take heart from an improved bowling performance - Brunt finished with figures of 2-21, and Alex Hartley removed Iqbal LBW to claim her first ever World Cup wicket.
And while today’s result was no surprise, the clinical manner in which England despatched Pakistan will give them confidence aplenty heading into the middle stages of this tournament.