England 172 for 8 (Sciver 59, Kaperek 3-35) beat New Zealand 118 (Ecclestone 4-18, Knight 2-17) by 54 runs
England halted New Zealand's 12-match winning streak in T20 internationals as Nat Sciver and Sophie Ecclestone produced the telling individual contributions in a 54-run win at Taunton. Batting first for the second time in the day, England made 172 for 8 from their 20 overs before career-best figures of 4 for 18 from Ecclestone helped derail New Zealand.
There was no lack of energy as England set about defending their target, despite having been beaten in deflating circumstances by South Africa in the first match of Saturday's double-header. Katherine Brunt claimed the key wicket of Suzie Bates lbw and New Zealand were unable to build partnerships, eventually dismissed with nine balls to spare.
"Two games in a day is tough physically and mentally, and I think we've dealt with it brilliantly with the response we've had - particularly with the ball," England captain Heather Knight said. "It was really pleasing to come away with the win. We talked about parking [the defeat] quickly, we didn't have much time to dwell on it, and it was all about character and trying to put in a much-improved performance and nail our basic skills. I think we did that much better."
Knight had no hesitation choosing to bat first after winning the toss again, despite South Africa overhauling a target of 161 earlier in the day. Sciver's powerful contribution, 59 off 37 balls, was the innings of substance required, but it needed some stout blows from Anya Shrubsole - including the only six of the innings - to ensure New Zealand's task would be more demanding.
Sciver was badly dropped at deep midwicket on 21, by Lea Tahuhu off the bowling of Bates, to continue a day of poor fielding by all three teams. England were three down and looking for a spark, and Sciver responded to her life by kicking on to a 31-ball fifty, reached with a dismissive lash over cover.
England were grateful for Sciver producing her most-significant contribution of the home summer so far, having seen the in-form Tammy Beaumont fall short of 50 for the first time in five innings - bowled by Hayley Jensen attempting a trademark scoop; with Sarah Taylor run out for 1 after Jensen got a fingertip on Beaumont's straight drive and Danni Wyatt the first of three wickets for Leigh Kasperek, England had fallen to 58 for 3 in the eighth over.
Knight and Brunt produced cameos but, after Sciver was caught trying to clear short fine leg, it was time for some old-fashioned slogging from the tail, as Shrubsole, Ecclestone and Danielle Hazell added 32 from the last 17 balls.
In response, Sophie Devine launched the second ball of the New Zealand reply over deep midwicket for six. Tash Farrant received the same treatment as Shrubsole, but then made the breakthrough to send Devine back for 13, and the big moment of the chase came when Brunt trapped Bates in front of leg stump with a delivery that perhaps kept a touch low on the worn pitch - the same one that had been used for three previous games.
Bates' dismissal had been preceded by Katey Martin playing out a maiden from Ecclestone. The 19-year-old spinner returned to bowl Martin for 16 in the 11th over, Knight chipping in with a wicket either side, and Ecclestone then helped round up the lower order as she attacked the stumps and found just enough turn - even beating the usually immaculate Taylor at one point, with Bernadine Bezuidenhoudt out of her ground. Unperturbed, Ecclestone bowled Bezuidenhoudt next ball.
A second victory in three matches lifted England to four points in the tri-series standings, with one more fixture to come against New Zealand. South Africa, who resurrected their chances of reaching the final after twice conceding record totals in women's T20I, will play New Zealand first in Thursday's final double-header in Bristol.