England cantered to a seven-wicket win over West Indies in a commanding start to their 2023 Women’s T20 World Cup campaign.
Heather Knight’s side promised aggression in the build-up to the tournament and walked the walk in chasing down 136 with 33 balls to spare.
The 135-7 mustered by West Indies, bolstered by a fine 42 from captain Hayley Matthews, never looked sufficient as world No.1 T20I bowler Sophie Ecclestone snaffled three for 23.
The Windies chose to bat and Lauren Bell’s jagging inswing caused them early headaches in Paarl’s broiling 38-degree heat.
The returning Stafanie Taylor was given out LBW on-field with the last ball of the opening over, a decision overturned on referral.
Matthews got the measure of Bell in the seamer’s erratic second over - twice piercing the off-side field.
She struck eight fours in the powerplay to guide the Windies to 47 without loss, the first time in 20 T20Is that they have reached the six-over mark without losing a wicket.
Taylor never looked convincing and was outfoxed by the flight of Sarah Glenn’s second ball, trapped in front for three from 14 balls, this time squandering one of her team’s reviews.
England got the crucial wicket of Matthews in the 11th over when she was deceived by Sophie Ecclestone’s drift and given out LBW.
Shemaine Campbelle played sensibly in an anchor role but she lost partner Shabika Gajnabi at 70 for three, run out by Alice Capsey when turning for a tight second.
Campbelle ticked up to 34 at a run-a-ball but her promising fourth-wicket stand was broken when she nicked Katherine Sciver-Brunt behind, Amy Jones taking a sharp catch.
England took back control in that 17th over with Knight running out Chinelle Henry two balls later and two wickets fell to Ecclestone in the penultimate over.
In reply Dunkley and Danni Wyatt came out firing, the former taking 17 runs from a single Matthews over, but the latter soon perished for 11, caught in the deep on the off side.
Dunkley pressed on undeterred, reaching 34 from 17 balls, but was dismissed when Henry took a reflex return catch.
England doubled down on their aggressive approach, Alice Capsey and Nat Sciver-Brunt going hard from the off, before Capsey was out stumped on the charge for 13.
The Nat and Knight partnership that has borne such fruit for England saw them from 71 for three all the way home, a 67 stand for the fourth wicket laced with leg-side boundaries.