A five-wicket win at Lincoln’s Bert Sutcliffe Oval today sealed the Twenty20 International Series for England in the last game of an unpredictable three-match contest between the two sides.
After being sent in, regular wickets cost the New Zealand White Ferns dearly — neither of their big-hitting openers Suzie Bates and Rachel Priest able to make an impact against an England side fired up to mark Charlotte Edwards’ 200th appearance as England captain.
Heather Knight and Danielle Hazell proved the most challenging of the English attack, but Sophie Devine (37 off 31) kept her cool and looked untroubled, striding in at number five early in the eighth over.
Despite losing a succession of partners with no partnership of substance, she gritted down through the middle of the innings and into the 19th over to ensure the White Ferns were able to bat out their full 20 — albeit for just 97 runs, and nine down.
Listen to Debbie Hockley interviewing Sophie Devine about her role
The Ferns made the English batters work hard in return as the visitors looked to chase down a modest target. Rated as one of the quickest bowlers in women’s cricket, Lea Tahuhu came back into the eleven today to take a career-best 3-28, including bowling the star England skipper for just five runs, Edwards too late into her cut shot against Tahuhu’s pace.
England was also forced to be watchful against the Ferns' tenacious fielding — and treated tight control from Georgia Guy and Morna Nielsen with respect.
Despite being almost there at 92/3 at the three-quarters mark, the match went down to the penultimate over as the Ferns continued to scrap for every ball. Commented Sophie Devine, "Even 20 more runs from us today would have put real pressure on England."
Natalie Sciver was dismissed in the closing stages in freakish fashion after the ball richoted off bowler Erin Bermingham’s hand to have her run out at the non-striker’s, but Katherine Brunt finally punched a brutal six over cow corner to win the match, and the Series, with just eight balls to spare.