Taylor stars as England win stand-in warm-up
England women 131 for 6 (Taylor 51) beat New Zealand women 130 for 6 by four wickets
Sarah Taylor struck a majestic half-century to help England to a promising four-wicket win over an in-form New Zealand, in their first World T20 warm-up match in Chennai.
Compiled of reverse sweeps, well-timed glances and a few effective boshes through the leg-side, the dynamic wicketkeeper set the platform for victory following a lacklustre start in which England slumped to 0 for 1 after the first over.
It was an encouraging, battling display for coach Mark Robinson, as he embarks on his first major tournament with the team. This match had not originally been on England's schedule, as they stepped in at the last minute to fulfil the fixture due to Pakistan still awaiting safety assurances before travelling.
The two sides will meet again tomorrow as planned, but Robinson was left heartened by what he saw on their first encounter.
"I thought it was [an ideal game] in many ways, as it was close," Robinson said. "You want it to be a tight game as you learn more.
"We were a bit rusty in our thinking at times and adapting to the wicket, however, we got better as the game went on. And it was made even better by us winning."
The victory was all the more pleasing considering England's tour in India has consisted of just one full training session before today, and has already come under scrutiny after the team was made to fly in economy class while their male counterparts were in business.
"In a perfect world we'd have gone in economy plus, which does make a difference," Robinson added. "But at the moment we don't bring as much money in. Whether we should have the same comforts in an aeroplane, others can decide.
"Our board treat us fantastically well so I've got no gripes whatsoever, and we're just happy to be here, privileged to be here, in a fantastic cricketing mad country."
New Zealand entered the match hoping to demonstrate their title-winning credentials, coming off the back of a confidence-boosting 2-1 T20I series triumph against World No.1 Australia earlier this year.
The 130 they posted instead showed a team vulnerable lower down the order, having reached the 11th over on 76 for 1 with little troubling them. Yet the score proved a much more challenging target under the lights, as the outfield slowed and New Zealand made good use of the wicket.
Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine put on 75 runs together for the second wicket, launching an assault against anything not aligned to the fourth stump, as England's bowlers struggled to find their accuracy with the ball.
Only Katherine Brunt managed to shackle the White Ferns throughout, her forceful bowling too much for the batsmen to get away. It was an impressive return for Brunt, finishing on 2 for 15 from four overs in her first game back since missing much of the recent South Africa tour with side strain.
New Zealand continued to accumulate runs with ease though, England eventually regrouping, as they grew accustomed to the pitch. Bates fell to Rebecca Grundy, her wily spin drawing a looping catch to Charlotte Edwards, prior to Tash Farrant toppling Devine with a straight one as she looked to accelerate the scoring.
A late push from Amy Satterthwaite nudged the score along to a potentially defendable position, however the damage had been done by then.
England got off to a terrible start in their reply, Amy Jones removed second ball of the innings, her attempted pull shot off Lea Tahuhu flying straight to Satterthwaite. A pause in proceedings for Katey Martin, who had been struck in the face by the ball while keeping, seemed to pacify New Zealand. Up to that point they had contained the batting pair of Edwards and Taylor, yet lost their thrust with Martin leaving the field.
An over later and the top two T20I run-scorers began their fight back, whacking 14 runs on their way to a 75-run partnership. Although both departed, Lydia Greenway forced the issue with some experienced batting, leaving Natalie Sciver to score the single run required off the last ball of the match.
Francis Kelly is a freelance writer. He tweets at @_FrancisKelly