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Sophie Ecclestone shines as England beat Pakistan to seal T20 series
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Sophie Ecclestone shines as England beat Pakistan to seal T20 series

Sophie Ecclestone sealed her place in history to become England’s leading wicket-taker in T20s, as England secured a 65-run win in the second T20 at Northampton to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series with one match left to play.

Ecclestone, who has taken just 80 matches to overtake Katherine Sciver-Brunt’s record of 114 wickets, sealed the deal by taking Muneeba Ali caught-and-bowled in the sixth over, before wrapping up the innings with two wickets in the 16th as England bowled Pakistan out for just 79.

“I actually had no idea – I’m really bad with numbers,” ­Ecclestone said of the landmark, achieved at the age of just 25. “To overtake Katherine is a bit surreal – she’s someone I looked up to when I was young and I got her autograph a couple of times – but I’m really proud.”

Opting to bat first, England had reached 144 for six thanks to some lusty final-over blows from Danielle Gibson, who followed up Saturday’s unbeaten 41 by slamming 18 not out from nine balls, including a huge six over long-on – the first maximum of the international summer.

Nida Dar, who took over the Pakistan captaincy last month, had begun the 20th over celebrating the stumping of Amy Jones with even more zeal than usual. Unlike Ecclestone, she was well aware that she had just achieved a personal milestone – it was her 137th scalp in the format, and meant she overtook Australia’s Megan Schutt as the leading wicket-taker in women’s T20 internationals.

But despite the best efforts of Muneeba Ali and Aliya Riaz, who pummelled six boundaries between them, her team’s batting never quite got going. The whole effort was symbolised by a double-wicket 13th over at the hands of Alice Capsey’s very-part-time off-spin; Pakistan’s final five wickets fell for just eight runs.

Dar, who took over the Pakistan captaincy last month, had begun the 20th over by celebrating her own personal milestone – it was her 137th scalp in the format, and saw her overtake Australia’s Megan Schutt to become the leading wicket-taker in women’s T20 internationals. But her side’s batting never quite got going.

Lauren Bell picked up two wickets in the third over, and by the time Alice Capsey’s part-time off-spin was given an outing in the 13th, the end was nigh. Capsey ended up with two wickets, while Pakistan’s last five batters fell for eight runs.

Earlier, Nat Sciver-Brunt had celebrated her return to the England side with a quickfire 31. She has revealed that her absence from Saturday’s match was the result of recently having her eggs frozen, in the hopes of starting a family with her wife and former England, Katherine, after retirement.

Maia Bouchier and Capsey chipped in with a 49-run partnership for the second wicket. In an encapsulation of the famine and feast which is ­coach Lewis’s Jonball, Capsey edged Waheeda Akhtar just past Muneeba Ali behind the stumps, then mistimed a shaky pull shot, but proceeded to slam 20 runs off the over.

England’s innings then stalled after the drinks break, after Bouchier was run out by Diana Baig, who pulled off a great diving stop at extra cover, while nine balls later Capsey lost her head yet again, trying to go big to Dar and edging behind the stumps.

The hosts’ promising start could easily have fizzled out: instead, Gibson ensured England snatched the momentum, and the series.

That’s it from me. I’ll sign off with that. Thanks for hanging with me. Keep an eye out for Raf Nicholson’s report. G’night!

Finally, here’s England’s captain, Heather Knight:

I’m pleased with the way we went about that with the bat in the powerplay. The batters have been thinking about how they were going to go about taking on slower bowling on slower wickets. We lost a bit of momentum in the middle but picked it up at the end. And really clinical with the ball and outstanding in the field.

It was a little slow. I found it hard to get going as a batter. We used that to our advantage with the ball. Spin is our strength. It was a little bit deceiving, maybe a bit more like Bangladesh than we thought it would be.

Really pleased with [Gibson]. She’s shown what she can do with the bat and the ball. She’s an exciting young cricketer.

Our fielding coach will be happy with us. We’ve worked on that.

[Ecclestone] is amazing at what she does. She has a reapatbale action and is going to take a hell of lot more wickets [she became England’s all-time leading wicket taker in this format tonight].

Being ruthless is something we want to be better at and be more consistent. As a team we want to nail that final game.

Now it’s Pakistan’s skipper, Nida Dar:

I take the positives that the approach was very nice, and the intent of the girls [with the ball].

We have bowling as our strength. We rely on that. But our batting is not working.

We have tried a lot of combinations and we’re working on it [power hitting and rotating strike are two major concerns].

[But, she’s the leading wicket taker in this format thanks to two scalps tonight] It’s definitely a very proud moment for me. I’m very happy for that but I’d have been happier if we won the match.

Alice Capsey is the player of the match with 31 runs and two wickets:

I found [conditions] easier the longer I batted. It felt pretty low and slow and I had to adapt my game. We just had to stick to our plans.

It got harder [when Pakistan took pace of the ball]. It’s just about adapting your game and playing different shots.

I got a little bit stuck last game so I was trying to be more proactive.

I’m learning to be more at peace with the ebbs and flows of the game. [Scoring runs] is not going to happen every game. I’m backed by Heather and the team to be a match winner.

It’s nice to get a bowl and take the opportunity.

WICKET! Pakistan all-out for 79 (Iqbal c Wyatt b Ecclestone 0) Ecclestone – with a handy 3-11 – gets Iqbal caught by Wyatt who ran round from mid-off to dive and hold onto a sharp grab. That’s about as easy as you’d like. Pakistan just not good enough with the bat.

There it is. Just one to go now. Waheeda heaves without any power or timing or bat speed and the ball skews towards Glenn at backward point. She has the stoop a little to grab it, but makes it look simple in the end. One to go.

15th over: Pakistan 79-8 (Nashra 4, Waheeda 2) Capsey can’t repeat her tricks from the last over. Two singles and a wide, but no wickets, from this latest set. Just a procession now. Pakistan can barely get it off the square and England can’t quite find that next scalp.

14th over: Pakistan 76-8 (Nashra 3, Waheeda 1) That was pretty poor from Gibson. She’s looking to hit the deck but she’s not straight enough. One wide, and it could have been more, along with three singles feels like a let off for Pakistan.

13th over: pakistan 72-8 (Nashra 1, Waheeda 0) 2-1 for Capsey. Not a bad haul. But Pakistan from 39-3 have folded to 72-8. Just a lack of power and guile with the willow.

So simple. It was as if Diana was batting with a wet fish. She came down the pitch to Capsey’s gentle off spin and looped a tame gimme to Ecclestone at mid-off. Two to go for England.

One ball, one wicket for Capsey. Pakistan are capitulating and there goes their last recognised batter. Tossed up, a wild swipe, an outside edge and a simple catch for Glenn at backward point.

12th over: Pakistan 71-6 (Aliyah 19, Diana 0) England are closing in now. Just two from that over, and a wicket, it’s the spin wizards who are strangling Pakistan.

Dragged on! It’s the pressure that forces the mistake. That was not short enough or wide enough to cut, but Sana, looking to make a play, rocks back and tries to cut it fine. All she can do is catch it with the inside edge and she’s got to go.

11th over: Pakistan 69-5 (Aliyah 18, Sana 7) Dean is back. She’s zipping it through and causing discomfort for the batters. Just three from the over, two of them to Aliya who is at least trying to show intent, but can’t get into a position to give it a whack. Pressure building.

10th over: Pakistan 66-5 (Aliyah 16, Sana 6) Sana bashes Ecclestone through midwicket. There’s another mix-up but no danger this time. Eccelstone thought she had an lbw wicket and Sana keeps the strike. It all feels a little devoid of jeopardy now. Pakistan need a miracle to get the 79 balls required off the remaining 60 balls. The run-rate isn’t a problem, but unless Aliyah gets the bulk of them, this will end with a one-sided result.

Sana, the new batter survives a review. Initially given out lbw to the returning Ecclestone, she’s been saved by technology. Sliding down leg on the angle.

9th over: Pakistan 60-5 (Aliyah 16, Sana 1) Well, at least Aliyah is making a game of this. She’s continuing to thwack it, crunching a another four down the ground off Glenn. But calamitous running between the wickets means another one falls. England are half-way there and I don’t think they’ll take too long to get over the line.

What are they doing? Oh no, that’s not going to help. Just as Aliyah’s belligerence had helped shift the momentum of this match, Pakistan’s batters get in a tangle in the middle of the pitch and their remaining opener is left stranded. Tip and run stuff and that’s the end of Ameen.

8th over: Pakistan 54-4 (Ameen 10, Aliya 11) This feels like a bowling change with a mind on the World Cup. A more ruthless decision would have been to keep Ecclestone on, but instead it’s Gibson into the attack. Swift fielding on the the backward point fence from Glenn saves two runs but there’s nothing anyone can do when Aliya biffs two monstrous fours down the ground. Two wides as well means it’s not a great start for Gibson.

7th over: Pakistan 42-4 (Ameen 10, Aliya 1) Superb introduction from Glenn. The wicket of Pakistan’s captain and just a single to new batter Aliya, so far so good from the leggie.

They’re tumbling now. Glenn, into the attack, fizzes a full ball which prompts a swiping sweep from Dar. She’s nowhere near it, is through the stroke before the ball clips her hip dead in front of her stumps. Pakistan in a deep hole and I don’t see them climbing out of it.

6th over: Pakistan 41-3 (Ameen 10, Dar 1) It’s three down, but it could have been four. A mix-up off the last ball of the over had both batters in the middle of the pitch, but a wild throw from the fielder at mid-off provided a let off. Still, England on top here after the powerplay.

Ecclestone becomes England’s leading IT20 wicket taker and what a time to do it. Muneeba had just swept a firm four which prompted a field change. Pakistan’s keeper then went looking for the newly created gap but spooned a simple return catch for England’s premier spinner.

5th over: Pakistan 35-2 (Ameen 10, Muneeba 14) Muneeba is fighting back and back-to-back boundaries off Bell from round the wicket has put the pressure back on England’s bowlers. One was bludgeoned down the ground from a full length and the other was a textbook perfect pull. It’s a productive set for the tourists worth 13 as a two down in off-side deep, as well as three scampered singles, added to the tally.

4th over: Pakistan 22-2 (Ameen 9, Muneeba 2) Big turn from Dean, though it was down the leg side and bobble away for three wides. Still, encouraging for England’s other spinners. Ameen crunched one through point for four and there were three singles elsewhere, so that’s Pakistan’s best over by a distance worth 10 runs.

3rd over: Pakistan 12-2 (Ameen 4, Muneeba 0) Two wickets, three wides and a leg-bye. That was an eventful over from Bell who didn’t quite find her radar, but did pick up a brace.

Sharp grab at backward point! On first viewing it looked Jonty Rhodoes-like, but it was actually close-ish to Wyatt. Still, that was flying from a firm front foot cut and Wyatt hauled it in on the tumble. That’s a second for Bell in the over.

Simple as. A length ball, maybe a touch on the fuller side, draws out a heave from Feroza but no timing. Bouchier is stationed just behind square on the leg side boundary and she runs in and catches a simple grab.

2nd over: Pakistan 8-0 (Feroza 3, Ameen 4) Charlie Dean top open the other end with her off-spin. Some she’s skidding through, others are looping with a bit of air. She really is a lovely bowler to watch. Of the three twirlers perhaps the most improved over the last two years. Just three from that opening set, all to Feroza.

1st over: Pakistan 5-0 (Feroza 0, Ameen 5) Well, Bell promised full and straight but this has been short and wide. She gets away with one that should have been penalised for a wide and the next one is clattered by Ameen between cover and point for four. There’s a leg-bye in there as well.

Lauren Bell has the ball. Early wicket will be key (I mean, they always are, but the fact remains). Full and straight will be Bell’s aim. Can she land em?

17 off the final and now England have a score to defend. Despite losing Jones to the first ball of the over, Ecclestone came to the crease and dinked a boundary through cow corner before Gibson clobbered the first six of the series down the ground and then reverse scooped a four.

That feels about par. Maybe just north of par. An interesting chase coming up.

Dar is now the highest wicket taker in women’s IT20s! Huge achievement from the Pakistan skipper who dragged Jones out of her crease and Muneeba is too good to miss out on that. England have been hauled back after an explosive start.

19th over: England 127-5 (Jones 15, Gibson 8) Gibson smears a much needed boundary through the off side to close out the over. Before that it was actually a tidy set from Sadia who had restricted England to just three singles. Gibson charged early and Sadia chucked it wide, but the batter managed to reach it and pick the gap.

18th over: 120-5 (Jones 13, Gibson 3) Dar back into the attack as England’s batters show their frustration. They’ve just not been able to accelerate as they’d have liked. A swivelling reverse pull from Gibson is worth three, but the rest of the over is only worth three singles.

17th over: England 114-5 (Jones 9, Gibson 1) Jones ends Diana’s four over spell – 1-28 – with a slog sweep that goes for four, but that’s still Pakistan’s set. Eight off it but the wicket of Knight, it’s hard to tell what the two teams would be happy with from here.

And another. This time it’s the skipper, and it’s rather tame from Knight. She gets on the front foot and plays a wafty drive, but there’s not enough on it and Waheeda takes a comfortable catch at long-off about 10 yards in from the boundary.

16th over: England 106-4 (Knight 4, Jones 2) Quality from Sadia. A big wicket and just three singles from her return over. Jones, the hero of Birmingham, is off looking to play some reverse sweeps to counter Pakistan’s spin. England will want at least 40 from these final four I reckon.

Source: theguardian.com