Capsey and Ecclestone give England net-run-rate boosting win

replay of , Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka, Group B, Asia Cup 2022, Dubai, August 27, 2022
Capsey and Ecclestone give England net-run-rate boosting win

England 107 for 6 (Capsey 51, Murray 3-15) beat Ireland 105 (Lewis 36, Ecclestone 3-13, Glenn 3-19) by four wickets

England stumbled across the line against Ireland in Paarl, winning by four wickets with the better part of six overs remaining after Alice Capsey thrashed 51 off 22 balls.

Capsey fell immediately after reaching a 21-ball half-century, the joint-fastest in Women’s T20 World Cup history, as England looked for a net run-rate boost in pursuit of 106. They stuttered after her dismissal, losing 5 for 33, but Ireland’s own collapse with the bat ensured there was never any scoring pressure on England.

Ireland were aggressive with the bat after winning the toss. They reached 80 for 2 after 12 overs, with Gaby Lewis playing fluently after surviving a dropped chance off Lauren Bell in the first over. But they fell away dramatically, losing 8 for 25 in 35 balls. Sophie Ecclestone made the crucial intervention, dismissing Lewis in a double-wicket maiden which sparked a dramatic collapse.

Ecclestone took a sharp, diving catch at mid-off in the following over to dismiss Louise Little and leave Ireland five down, before Sarah Glenn struck twice in her final over. Ecclestone yorked Ireland captain Laura Delany with her final ball to finish with 3 for 13, with Bell and Katherine Sciver-Brunt striking either side.

Ireland needed early wickets – and got one, as Sophia Dunkley chipped to mid-on. But they bowled poorly with the new ball, with the nerves of a young team playing their first T20 World Cup fixture in four-and-a-half years.

Capsey was disdainful, swinging her way to England’s fastest fifty in this format – before lofting Arlene Kelly to long-off. Cara Murray took three wickets with her legbreaks after Danni Wyatt ran herself out to take the shine off England’s win, but they secured the two points with 34 balls to spare.

Gaby Lewis leads Ireland’s bright start

Ireland had not played in a Women’s T20 World Cup since 2018 but expectations were high after their victory against defending champions Australia in a warm-up fixture. They became higher still when they crashed four fours off the first nine balls of the innings, openers Lewis and Amy Hunter trading boundaries.

Lewis, Ireland’s all-time leading run-scorer in T20Is, set the tone when she pounded the first ball she faced through backward point for four, though did benefit from some early luck. She cut her fourth ball straight to Wyatt, who shelled a straightforward chance at point.

Heather Knight turned to spin in the third over on a dry, used pitch but Lewis continued to score fluently, reverse-sweeping and sweeping boundaries. Hunter holed out to deep midwicket off Charlie Dean, but Ireland raced to 42 for 1 off the six-over Powerplay.

After two lengthy delays to fix a loose stump-camera cable, Orla Prendergast’s bright cameo ended when she was bowled by a ball from Glenn that kept low, but Lewis and captain Delany continued to tick over, reaching 80 for 2 at the end of the 12th over as they looked to build a platform for a late launch.

England’s spin squeeze

Ecclestone is Knight’s trump card, and she opted to play it in the 13th over, looking to break the burgeoning partnership between Lewis and Delany. It worked, as Lewis top-edged a sweep to Wyatt – who hung onto this low chance at deep backward square leg – and Ireland’s middle order was exposed.

Eimear Richardson was trapped lbw, looking to paddle-sweep her first ball. Louise Little survived the hat-trick ball and lofted Dean back over her head for Ireland’s only six, but miscued her next delivery to Ecclestone at mid-off.

Glenn struck twice in her next over. First, she trapped Waldron – playing her record 180th game for Ireland – lbw on the sweep and then crashed one into Leah Paul’s middle-and-off stump. Ireland had lost five wickets in 17 balls, and the game was over as a contest.

Murray sparks mini-collapse

England needed only 33 off 13 overs when Murray was introduced, and Delany must have rued holding her back so long. A wicket fell in her first over when Wyatt pushed to short cover and set off for a single that was never there, and Murray had her own first wicket with her seventh ball when Nat Sciver-Brunt holed out to long-off.

Knight and Amy Jones both fell with the finish line in sight, Knight diverting a ball onto her own stumps via the glove and Jones chipping meekly into the covers. But Ireland never had quite enough runs to play with, and England’s implosion came a little too late to give Ireland any real hope.

WPL offers England sub-plots

Knight admitted before the tournament that the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) auction was “on everyone’s minds”, saying: “It would be naive to think it isn’t a slight distraction.” Before Monday’s game had started, three England players – Nat Sciver-Brunt, Dunkley and Ecclestone – had secured contracts, but Knight herself went unsold in the first round of bidding.

By the innings break, three more players had deals: Capsey, Bell and Knight herself, with travelling reserve Issy Wong also picked up. The rest of the squad went unsold, and Knight will need to ensure players’ franchise contracts do not become a distraction across the rest of the tournament.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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