England women pull off last-ball win in warm-up match

England and New Zealand pulled off a contest of high quality and a thrilling finish, also featuring a freak accident, at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium here today. England won the contest by five wickets, helped by a brilliant half-century from Sarah Taylor.

Sophie Devine top scored for New Zealand with 40.   -  K. Pichumani

Women’s cricket, sadly, pulls little crowd. Add to that, this was a warm-up match. Regardless of how incongruous it was, England and New Zealand pulled off a contest of high quality and a thrilling finish, also featuring a freak accident, at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium here today. England won the contest by five wickets, helped by a brilliant half-century from Sarah Taylor.

England won the toss and opted to field first. Katherine Brunt, who returned from a back injury after missing the South African tour, provided the first break for England.

Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine recovered the innings for New Zealand, as they registered 65 runs for the second wicket. However, just when Suzie (38) was looking unstoppable, she was dismissed by Rebecca Grundy as Charlotte took the catch.

Sophie, then, led the path for New Zealand alongside Amy Satterthwaite. After having smashed four fours and a six, Sophie looked buoyant, but 19-year-old Natasha Farrant bowled the experienced New Zealand batsman out for 40. Satterthwaite’s quickfire 22 provided an impetus to the innings; the run-rate was eventually pegged to 6.50.

New Zealand started well while defending 131, as Lea Tahuhu struck on her second delivery. An impressive catch by Satterthwaite provided the first break; Amy Jones was out for a duck. It was a wicket-maiden for the White Fern.

Katey Martin hurt

However, tragedy struck in the third over. A pacey, short delivery from Tahuhu hit wicketkeeper Katey Martin on her face. Katey was on the ground for quite some time, and was attended by the medical team. She walked off and Rachel Priest took over wicketkeeping responsibilities from her.

With two experienced batsmen in the middle, England never really looked out of control. A 75-run partnership between Charlotte and Sarah Taylor steered the team ahead. A few reverse hits and aggressive batting by Sarah kept England’s chase alive. Amid loud cheer, Sarah brought her half-century from 52 balls.

Suzie Bates, the New Zealand skipper, picked up the wicket of Sarah on the first ball she bowled in the 16th over.

England needed 10 off the last six to win the match. Suzie decided to bowl the final over. A full toss off the first ball was welcomed by a boundary. With one run left to win from the last two balls, Suzie removed Danielle Wyatt. Natalie Sciver walked out with one needed from one.

But, it did not bother the new batsman, as she calmly scored the winning runs for England.