England women 378 for 5 (Winfield 123, Beaumont 104, Sciver 80) beat Pakistan women 166 (Mahoof 61, Shrubsole 4-19) by 212 runs
Over the next month, expectations will be tempered through the usual stutters that cricket serves up to keep its incumbents in check. But, for today at least, England's women were flawless in their execution of an attacking approach that looks to be moving away from PowerPoint presentations and straight into their veins. Today, new era meant new records.
Their total of 378 for 5 was the third highest score they have managed in ODI cricket and the fourth-highest for any team. No England team had scored more sixes in an ODI (11 today), while not one England player had hit more than one six in their innings before three did so here. Lauren Winfield and Tammy Beaumont registered maiden ODI hundreds and, in the process, scored 235 to set a new record for the highest opening stand in the format. Their partnership was also the sixth-highest for any ODI wicket. No team, male or female, has scored more in 50 overs at New Road.
Winfield and Beaumont showed their intent from the start, sent in to bat after Pakistan won the toss. The first ODI was the first time they had opened together at the highest level, despite spending their undergraduate years defacing the record books at Loughborough University. Where previously they took turns stating their case for the same England spot with the other watching on, here for 231 deliveries, they united to dispel past frustrations.
Beaumont had shed some baggage at the World T20, and it showed: the post-boundary swaggers might well have been set to music. Winfield, however, has had to wait until now for that moment. Her 32 internationals before today had reaped just one half-century.
For a punchy, straight-shooting individual, a timidity had crept into her game. Head coach Mark Robinson was almost bemused by her poor record after seeing her at close quarters.
When she failed to make the World T20 squad, Robinson took her to one side: "Somehow, we have to get you in this team," he told her. Winfield's beaming smile at the end was only matched by Robinson's.
There was an element of ruthlessness to the approach of both openers. Perhaps the moment that typified the callousness of the opening assault was the muted tip of the helmet from Winfield as she brought up three figures. There was nothing in her reaction to suggest this was her first international hundred, or that she was carrying a diamond duck from the first ODI in her back pocket.
The pair were watchful for the first six overs, scoring 19 while assessing the pitch and sharing notes. Satisfied, they brought up England's century just 10 overs later. Greeted with a lack of pace off the pitch, as Pakistan cycled through their bowling options to frustrate, they did not resort to swinging across the line. Instead, they waited: Beaumont in particular used her wrists to dollop an extra serving on her shots through cover, while maintaining a strong base.
Going stroke for stroke, it was Winfield who won the race to 100, off 106 balls. Beaumont followed 11 deliveries later, taking a slightly risky single to cover off her 114th ball that had her cursing from the start then dusty and elated as she dived for the crease before raising her arms to salute the crowd and embrace her opening partner.
While the manner in which the runs were scored spoke of freedom, everything around them reeked focus. During the World T20, England's first six of the competition, against Bangladesh in Bangalore, was cheered raucously by the dug-out. In their final group match in Chennai, against Pakistan, Charlotte Edwards punched the air sarcastically after stepping across her stumps and lapping over her shoulder - a shot she had been honing in the build-up to the tournament and subsequently pulled off perfectly.
Perhaps another time twin tons and breaching 300 in such devastating fashion would have broken out the bunting. Instead, the assault kept going as Nat Sciver walked in to lead the heist of 132 from the last 10 overs.
The numbers tell Sciver's story: 80 off 33 balls, 22 for the fifty (the fastest recorded in women's ODIs) and seven sixes. Most were down the ground, but her second, off Nina Dar, was obscene: a slog sweep taken on the up which threatened Worcester Cathedral at midwicket. Sciver, like most of this England team, struggles to talk herself up. With striking like that, she can let the stats do the singing.
Without wishing to be the one that brings warm milk to the house party, England did benefit from 55-yard boundaries and a woeful effort in the field from Pakistan. In the estimation of Sana Mir, Pakistan's captain, this was a chastening performance that needs to be learned from rather than forgotten.
Three changes were made from the side that lost the opening rubber at Grace Road, most notably Anam Amin, one of the world's top left-arm spinners, who sat out this match after sustaining a hand injury in that match. Without her, there was no threat in the middle overs: no fear of either of these right-handers being done on the outside edge. Pace bowler Maham Tariq arrived in the UK yesterday and was drafted in to take the second over.
That the 235 opening stand was the highest partnership for any wicket in the last seven years - a period in which the women's international game has improved exponentially - speaks volumes. Mismatches like this are harder to come by nowadays. Pakistan were never a part of this contest. If this were a boxing match, they would have had to pay at the door.
What limited resistance they offered came from the bat of Bismah Maroof, as they fell 212 short chasing a target they were never going to reach, in the midst of an opposition fielding effort that was never going to reciprocate their generosity.
Vice-captain Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt dovetailed with 4 for 19 and 2 for 27 respectively. Sciver nabbed two herself, while Danni Wyatt marked her territory at backward point with direct-hit run outs of Nahida Khan and Mir. Maroof managed a tenth ODI fifty, but when she caved, that was that.
To step back from this match, England needed a performance to justify high-profile turnovers and Robinson's faith in youth. As far as statements go, this was emphatic.