5th T20I, Wellington, March 29, 2024, England Women tour of New Zealand
(18.5/20 ov, T:137) 138/5

ENG Women won by 5 wickets (with 7 balls remaining)

Player Of The Match
31 (27) & 2/24
Player Of The Series
223 runs

All-round Sciver-Brunt, Ecclestone set up England's 4-1 series win over New Zealand

After grabbing 2 for 24 with the ball, Sciver-Brunt scored 31 with the bat to put 19-year-old Izzy Gaze's fifty in vain

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
Nat Sciver-Brunt shared a fifty stand with Heather Knight, New Zealand Women vs England Women, 5th T20, Wellington, March 29, 2024

Nat Sciver-Brunt shared a fifty stand with Heather Knight  •  Getty Images

England 138 for 5 (Knight 35, Sciver-Brunt 31, A Kerr 3-30) beat New Zealand 136 for 6 (Gaze 51*, Ecclestone 3-30, Sciver-Brunt 2-24) by five wickets
Nat Sciver-Brunt and Sophie Ecclestone were devastating with the ball as England secured a clinical five-wicket win over New Zealand in their final T20I for a 4-1 series victory. The pair shared five wickets between them, with Sciver-Brunt making the early breakthroughs which had the home side reeling, and Ecclestone claiming three to ensure England faced a modest target.
An unbeaten half-century from 19-year-old Izzy Gaze had earlier rescued New Zealand from 69 for 5. She shared a 56-run stand for the sixth wicket with Brooke Halliday, but in reply, Sciver-Brunt and Heather Knight put on a 57-run stand of their own from 64 for 3 to bring England within touching distance of victory. The sides next meet in a three-match ODI series beginning in Wellington on Monday.

England's devastating duet

Sciver-Brunt and Ecclestone returned to international duty in the fourth T20I after playing in the WPL. England won that match to take an unassailable 3-1 lead, and the duo made a massive impact in the fifth. Sciver-Brunt claimed a wicket with the fifth ball of the match, and had two in seven deliveries when she removed Bernadine Bezuidenhout and Amelia Kerr, as the hosts stumbled to 10 for 2 inside three overs.
It wasn't long before Charlie Dean, who finished as the series' leading wicket-taker with seven, accounted for Suzie Bates. Ecclestone then entered the attack immediately after the powerplay to great effect for England. She had Georgia Plimmer caught by Danielle Gibson with her second delivery to make it 31 for 4, before taking a stunning return catch low to her left to remove Maddy Green just as New Zealand had started to breathe via a 38-run partnership between Green and Halliday.

Star Gaze-ing

Sophie Devine, ruled out of this match with a quad strain, had told ESPNcricinfo's Powerplay podcast before the series that building depth in this New Zealand side would take time. Gaze, with a previous highest score of 16 in T20Is - and 26 not out from 26 international matches - shone a light on the future as she amassed 51 not out off just 28 balls. It was the first time in 27 innings that a New Zealand Women's player other than Devine, Bates or Amelia Kerr had reached fifty in T20Is.
Gaze helped herself to 16 runs off Sciver-Brunt in the 18th over via a particularly effective lap shot and a pulled six. Come the final over, Halliday fell for 33 to a strong catch by Alice Capsey, who ran in from long-on to give Ecclestone her third wicket. Ecclestone then dropped a sitter off her own bowling when Jess Kerr looped one high into the air in the swirling Wellington breeze, and Gaze brought up her half-century next ball. She reverse swept Ecclestone to the boundary to walk off unbeaten, her innings giving New Zealand's bowlers something to defend.

England ease to victory

In a bright start to the run chase for New Zealand, Rosemary Mair conceded just one run off the first over. Maia Bouchier, the star of the previous match with her innings of 91, cleared mid-off to send Jess Kerr to the boundary off third ball of the second over. But Lea Tahuhu struck next over, as the ball swung away slightly and drew a thick outside edge which Gaze collected behind the stumps to send Bouchier back for 6.
Gaze fumbled a chance to stump Capsey off Jess Kerr moments later, and it was Amelia Kerr, standing in for Devine as captain, who made the breakthrough when Capsey hit her straight down the ground and into the hands of Green for 25. Amelia Kerr then enticed Danni Wyatt down the pitch before Gaze whipped the bails off, with the batter well outside of her ground and England 64 for 3.
But England were still looking comfortable with Sciver-Brunt and Knight at the crease. And when Knight survived a run-out chance before she hit double figures, the pair settled into a rhythm, building their fourth-wicket stand. They continued to capitalise on some wayward fielding until Amelia Kerr eased her side's frustrations with an excellent wrong 'un that rearranged Sciver-Brunt's leg stump.
Knight then sliced Mair to Jess Kerr in the covers with five runs needed off the last nine balls of the match, but there was no panic in the England camp as Sophia Dunkley cut Mair to the boundary to raise the winning runs with an over and a ball to spare.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women's cricket, at ESPNcricinfo

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