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Dunkley on England's comeback: 'Proud of ourselves in the fight'

"It's just a lot of belief in our change room and a lot of fight. We knew that we could come out and put on better performances."

Annesha Ghosh
Annesha Ghosh
27-Mar-2022
Sophia Dunkley scored a crucial half-century against Bangladesh  •  Getty Images

Sophia Dunkley scored a crucial half-century against Bangladesh  •  Getty Images

England's spectacular turnaround - four successive wins after three losses on the trot - en route to reaching the semi-finals of the 2022 ODI World Cup reflects the "fight" in the defending champions' dressing room, believes Sophia Dunkley, the Player of the Match in their must-win game against Bangladesh.
"I think it's been a really good achievement that we've been able to qualify now," Dunkley, who made a fighting 67 against Bangladesh in England's last league game, said. "From, obviously, where we started, I think all the girls are just really proud of ourselves in the fight we showed to get back into it.
"To go one step further would be amazing, just to show how far we've come as a group. One game at a time we're going to take it, but to win from where it was definitely a great achievement for sure.
"It's just a lot of belief in our change room and a lot of fight. We obviously didn't play our best cricket in the first few games. So, we knew that we could come out and put on better performances.
"We had a lot of belief in the group and a lot of positivity to get us through and sometimes, these games of cricket are not just how it goes. But it's just been a great fight from the girls and to get four wins on the bounce going into the semis, it puts us in a very strong position."
Dunkley's maiden World Cup fifty couldn't have come at a more opportune time. With England teetering at 96 for 4 against a Bangladesh attack that tested the most vaunted line-ups in the tournament, Dunkley anchored a 72-run fifth-wicket stand with Amy Jones and one worth 43 with Katherine Brunt for the sixth wicket at the Basin Reserve.
Her rearguard effort lifted them to 211 for 6 and was the most significant contribution in their total of 234 for 6. Her innings also made her the player with most runs, 209, batting at No. 6 or lower at a Women's ODI World Cup.
"It's been great to have a few good starts with the bat and contribute," she said. "But obviously, [it was] pleasing today to make a good contribution and get a score on the board that we could defend [today]. I'm loving batting with the team and loving being a part of the World Cup.
"She [Dunkley] has been a real find for us over the last couple of years. She has matured. She hits the ball very cleanly, I have had that when playing against her in domestic cricket and [am] really pleased she has got her first fifty in World Cups."
Heather Knight
"Going into bat, we were in a little bit of a tricky position and their bowlers bowled outstandingly at the start and really put us under pressure. I've watched them throughout this whole competition, and they've put teams under the pump which is great to see and just shows the standard of women's cricket is going up and up. It's very pleasing. It's nice to have a lot of competition throughout the tournament."
England captain Heather Knight was effusive in her praise for the 23-year-old Dunkley at the post-match presentation.
"She has been a real find for us over the last couple of years," Knight said. "She has matured. She hits the ball very cleanly; I have had that when playing against her in domestic cricket and [am] really pleased she has got her first fifty in World Cups. Hopefully, [there are] more to come."
Dunkley said England's resounding 100-run win against Bangladesh and their three prior back-to-back wins, including against India, New Zealand, and Pakistan has given them the momentum they hope to carry into the knockouts. She, however, stressed England wouldn't let their guard down, knowing how highly competitive this World Cup has been.
"Yeah, 100% I think, obviously, starting with three losses, it does really put you on the back foot and every game does become a must-win game. But having those experiences now, those games put us in a really good position," she said. "Every team is really beating everyone. So, it's very open. There are a lot of possibilities that could happen. So, keeps it exciting, I guess. Going into next week, we're very positive and have a lot of confidence now.
England's narrowest win, by one wicket, came against hosts New Zealand in Auckland last week and Dunkley said the significance of the jailbreak was not lost on her team-mates.
"It was a very important win and from our eyes, it was definitely a must-win game," she said. "We needed to win that game to put ourselves in a good position. So it was great that we could hold onto that and get over the line in whatever form and it has put us in good stead now to qualify and get through after winning today."

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha