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Match Analysis

Calm Sciver-Brunt shows why England can rely on her batting again

England are showing signs of depth, and if they can continue to build on it, it's even better for them

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
Nat Sciver-Brunt, Danni Wyatt, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey and Lauren Bell look on, England vs Pakistan, 2nd women's T20I, Wantage Road, May 17, 2024

Nat Sciver-Brunt, Danni Wyatt, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey and Lauren Bell look on  •  Getty Images

Maia Bouchier's timing was right on as she tucked the first ball of the match through backward square for four then rocked back to cut Waheeda Akhtar effortlessly to the deep point boundary three balls later. She pierced the covers off a wider, fuller ball from Sadia Iqbal to bring up her third boundary and was cruising despite losing her opening partner, Danni Wyatt, cheaply.
The dismissal had brought Alice Capsey to the crease and her five boundaries off Waheeda's third over spelt trouble for Pakistan, even if the first was a streaky edge which evaded the keeper and the second a premeditated slap through square leg.
Another assured strike over the covers from Bouchier had England 48 for 1 at the end of the powerplay, a vast improvement on their 29 for 4 in the opening match of this series.
England's 65-run victory in the second T20I in Northampton for an unassailable 2-0 lead was far more clinical than at Edgbaston last Saturday, where the 53-run margin was somewhat flattering to the hosts after they had collapsed to 11 for 4. And, on the surface, there were multiple contributors.
In Birmingham, it was Amy Jones, Heather Knight and latterly 41 from Dani Gibson who rescued England. At Wantage Road, Bouchier and Alice Capsey ensured panic was averted with their 49-run partnership at almost a run-a-ball.
But while they were by no means sluggish with 30 off 26 and 31 off 33 respectively, Nat Sciver-Brunt made them look it in her return at No. 4 after recovering from her egg-freezing procedure which kept her out of the first match and which she hopes will enable her and wife Katherine to start a family when the time is right for them.
Unavailable to bowl until she builds up her workloads with a view to possibly returning to her allrounder role during the ODI series which follows Sunday's final T20I at Headingley, Sciver-Brunt showed just why England could come to rely on her batting again against tougher opposition.
Bouchier was run out trying to push for a single she clearly didn't expect Diana Baig to stop with a full-length dive at extra cover, firing the ball into the keeper with Bouchier too far gone. But Sciver-Brunt was off the mark immediately with a cut off Nashra Sandhu through point.
Capsey was caught behind advancing to Nida Dar, who drew level with Australia's Megan Schutt at the top of the Women's T20I wicket-takers' list with 136 as a consequence. But Sciver-Brunt got the England innings moving again, first working the ball through fine leg for four followed by a brilliantly executed piece of innovation for which she is so well respected by team-mates and rivals alike, with a brutal reverse off Dar.
Sciver-Brunt struck three fours off one Sandhu over to move to 30 off 19 balls and, where Bouchier had been cruising, she was positively flying. That was until she picked out Fatima Sana at cover next over off Sadia to end a promising comeback innings on 31.
The rest of England's innings was unremarkable as they reached 144 for 6, some 19 runs fewer than they managed to defend at Edgbaston, after Dar removed Jones in the last over to move to the top of the T20I wicket-takers' list outright.
For England's bowlers, it was another strong team effort against a Pakistan batting line-up which lacks power and, so far this series, longevity.
Lauren Bell made early inroads, Sarah Glenn - who took four at Edgbaston - took 2 for 10 from three overs, and Capsey 2 for 4 from two as she was awarded Player of the Match.
But it was spin-bowling spearhead Sophie Ecclestone who led the way with 3 for 11 in 2.5 overs as Pakistan were bowled out for 79 with 25 balls to spare. In the process, she overtook Katherine Sciver-Brunt as England's all-time leading wicket-taker in Women's T20Is with 117.
"I forget I'm 25," Ecclestone, who celebrated her birthday earlier this month, said. "My body doesn't feel 25 sometimes, but I think it's obviously exciting and a massive thing for me is I keep enjoying it.
"I'm not much of a stats person. As long as the team's winning and we win a World Cup and the Ashes coming up, then I don't really care what my stats are.
"When I saw it on the screen I actually didn't realise I'd taken that many wickets. Katherine was great. She was someone I looked up to when I was really young and got her autograph a couple of times and to have overtaken her is a bit surreal."
Ecclestone was also full of praise for the other Scvier-Brunt. "She's just amazing and to have her calmness back in the squad means a lot to us. It's great to have her back and long may that continue."
Sciver-Brunt's ongoing presence looks sure to stand England in good stead but, if they can continue to build the depth they are showing signs of now, even better for them.

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