2nd T20I, Nelson, March 22, 2024, England Women tour of New Zealand
(20 ov, T:150) 134/8

ENG Women won by 15 runs

Player Of The Match
56* (40)

Knight and England's spinners inspire impressive victory after early trouble

The captain made another half century and with help from the lower order lifted the visitors from 77 for 6

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
England 149 for 7 (Knight 56*) beat New Zealand 134 for 8 (A Kerr 44) by 15 runs
Heather Knight was again to the fore as she lifted England out of trouble in Nelson and into a position where the visiting spinners were able to squeeze the life out of New Zealand's chase to take a 2-0 lead in the T20I series.
At various stages it looked like the return of Sophie Devine and Amelia Kerr would inspire New Zealand to bounce back from their opening loss in Dunedin. But when Kerr fell having got the requirement down to an achievable 50 off 33 balls, the home side's middle and lower order fell away.
Between them England's three frontline spinners - Charlie Dean, Linsey Smith and Sarah Glenn - produced figures of 12-0-74-4. Dean and Glenn had earlier played key roles with the bat in partnership with Knight as they lifted England from 77 for 6 to what became a very impressive victory.

Sophie Devine's early impact

It did not take long for Devine to get back into the action after her delayed arrival in the series due to the WPL. With her first delivery she had the dangerous Sophia Dunkley caught at midwicket and later in the powerplay cleaned up Tammy Beaumont as England struggled for early momentum.
New Zealand were well on top when Maia Bouchier toe-ended an attempted reverse scoop into the covers after labouring for 12 off 20 balls and when Amy Jones lofted into the deep off Lea Tahuhu it left England 57 for 4 at the midway point.

Heather Knight's rescue act

Things got worse for England before they got better as Danielle Gibson and Bess Heath both departed to leave them seemingly in a heap at 77 for 6 in the 14th over. But, crucially, the in-form Knight was still there and put together another superbly crafted half-century to follow her match-winning hand in the opening match.
Such was the way she was able to play alongside Dean and Glenn that, despite the problems England faced, 59 runs came off the last six overs which included Knight twice clearing the rope and Glenn finding the boundary twice in the final over from Devine which cost 18.
Having initially had to hold the innings together, Knight went from 22 off 23 balls to finish with 56 not out off 40.

Linsey Smith's perfect return

A direct-hit run out from Glenn to find Bernadine Bezuidenhout short gave England an early boost in the field, but New Zealand were tracking well at 35 for 1 after four overs with Suzie Bates and Kerr together.
Then, with her first ball in international cricket for nearly five years, left-arm spinner Smith had Bates top-edging to short fine leg, a success that was greeted by joyous celebrations from her team-mates. It was the start of a big role for England's spinners.
Smith went on to concede just one boundary in her four overs, as did Glenn, while Dean picked up the huge wicket of Devine when the New Zealand captain missed a sweep to be lbw.
However, it was the medium-pace of Gibson that put England firmly on course for victory when she had Kerr taken at short fine leg having played confidently for 44 off 36 balls. As in the first game, Maddy Green became stuck and the asking rate quickly climbed. Lauren Bell returned to claim two wickets in three balls and there was far too much for the lower order to do.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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