Maiden centuries by Natalie Sciver and Heather Knight helped England post its highest-ever ICC Women’s World Cup total on way to beating Pakistan by 107 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) Method at the Grace Road in Leicester on Tuesday.
The 213-run partnership equalled England’s third-wicket record stand set back in 1993, while Pakistan left-arm spinner Nashra Sandhu finished with figures of one for 82 – the most expensive in the ICC Women’s World Cup history.
Pakistan opener Ayesha Zafar was 56 not out and No.5 batter Nain Abidi 23 not out when rain brought an early end to the proceedings with the scoreboard reading 107 for three in 29.2 overs.
England captain Knight said: “Natalie fully deserves her player of the match award. She struck the ball so cleanly, it was really nice to get that partnership together and have a convincing win.
“I’m really happy with my own contribution too. I’m just pleased to be back playing again after my injury and I’m chuffed with how the girls are going now.
“We don’t really set targets too much, it’s about getting as many runs as we can. Pakistan actually started well, we had to ride that out a bit, play our shots and enjoy ourselves.”
Put into bat first after a half-hour rain delay, England started slowly, with Tamsin Beaumont dropped at first slip off the first ball before Kainat Imtiaz picked up two quick wickets - first trapping Sarah Taylor (11) in front of the wickets and then having Beaumont (14) caught behind by Sidra Nawaz.
But from then on, England took control through Knight and Sciver, with the latter hitting four boundaries in a row off Nashra and also plundering three sixes off a single over from Asmavia Iqbal.
Sciver was the first to reach her century in the 37th over, driving down the ground for a single to become England’s second fastest ODI centurion – seven balls slower than what Charlotte Edwards had managed in 2012.
Knight followed suit two overs later, courtesy of a reverse paddle for four, before she was caught by substitute fielder Diana Baig with Sciver also snaffled shortly afterwards by the same substitute fielder at midwicket.
Knight struck 12 fours and two sixes in a 109-ball 106, while Sciver slapped 14 fours and four sixes in a whirlwind 92-ball 137.
England was still able to add a further 98 runs, thanks to a combination of poor Pakistan fielding and an entertaining 50-run partnership between Danielle Wyatt (42 not out off 27 balls with five fours and a six) and Fran Wilson (33 off 19 balls with six fours).
Pakistan’s reply got off to a poor start when Nahida Khan was caught for seven by Sciver off Katherine Brunt before Javeria Khan (11) and Asmavia Iqbal (5) were also dismissed cheaply.
A rare positive was the form of Ayesha with the opener bringing up her half-century off 67 balls.
But with persistent rain starting shortly afterwards and Pakistan 107 for three after 29.2 overs – some way short of the DLS score of 214 – England was awarded the win.
Pakistan captain Sana Mir said: “We disappointed a lot of fans today. In the first game, we were not able to play the standard we set ourselves and we did not reach those standards again.
“We are disappointed with our effort but all credit to the England batters for the way they punished us.
“Ayesha is a very talented player – she can hit the ball hard and if she plays the way she does then hopefully the next match will be a different result.”
Scores in brief:
England beats Pakistan by 107 runs (DLS method) at Grace Road, Leicester
England 377-7, in 50 overs (Natalie Sciver 137, Heather Knight 106, Danielle Wyatt 42 not out; Asmavia Iqbal Khokhar 3-62, Kainat Imtiaz 2-68)
Pakistan 107-3, in 29.2 overs (Ayesha Zafar 56 not out, Nain Abidi 23 not out, Javeria Khan 11; Katherine Brunt 2-21, Alex Hartley 1-13)
Player of the match – Natalie Sciver (England)
Next matches – England v Sri Lanka, The County Ground, Taunton, 2 July; India v Pakistan, The County Ground, Derby, 2 July