England face India on Saturday with a place in the Commonwealth Games final at stake after thrashing New Zealand, chasing a meager 72 in just 11.4 overs to top Group B.
After a seven-wicket victory in their most dominant display at Birmingham 2022 so far, England avoided a semi-final clash with Australia, Group A winners and the overwhelming gold medal favourites.
But despite the absence of injured captain Heather Knight, England are gradually growing in confidence after a disappointing winter as they claimed a sixth successive T20 win this summer.
Katherine Brunt was almost unplayable in the powerplay, finishing with outstanding figures of 3-1-4-2, as New Zealand limped to 71 for nine before England cruised to their third successive group win.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” England stand-in skipper Nat Sciver said. “New Zealand have been a strong side and they’ve usually fought pretty well. It is very nice to have a quiet victory.
“If we start like that against any team, I think we’ll be in a pretty good position. We don’t think about consecutive victories, more about attitude and the way we play, we have fallen into the rhythm.
“Touching the ball when we’re batting and looking for wickets as much as we can when we’re bowling – that attitude has really helped us play with a bit more freedom and it seems to have worked.”
There were also two wickets each for Issy Wong and Sarah Glenn, but Brunt quickened England’s charge, uprooting the leg-stump of Sophie Devine with an off-cutter in the opener after the White Ferns captain had elected to bat first on a pitch where Sri Lanka was bowled for 46 against South Africa.
Amelia Kerr then missed a lift over the line and was also bowled by Brunt, with New Zealand unable to recover as they slumped to 35 for five, their parless position encapsulated when Brooke Halliday set off for a single that never was on before they ran out. with both her and Maddy Green at the same end.
Green top-scored with 19 before being tricked by a late dip from Sophie Ecclestone, while Hannah Rowe (10 not out) was the only other New Zealand batsman to reach double figures as the Kiwis posted their third-worst T20 total and lowest in a completed innings .
While Danni Wyatt topped Fran Jonas in the first over of the chase, Alice Capsey found early flow that her New Zealand counterparts lacked. 10,892 in attendance at Edgbaston.
Capsey was out for 23 after clubbing to mid-off, adding just one run after being recalled when she was out for a Devine no-ball, but there was no sense of imminent danger and Amy Jones finished on 18 not out after 10 deliveries, pounding a Jensen full toss through midwicket for the winning runs.
Knight has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a hip injury and Sciver admitted it is positive not to have the problem hanging over England.
“It’s nice not to be like ‘should she, shouldn’t she?’ I feel like I’m in a pretty good rhythm with it,” Sciver added. been fun.”
While New Zealand are licking their wounds after a crushing defeat, they had already booked their semi-final place and will now look forward to a showdown with Antipodean rivals Australia.