Canberra, Feb 26 (IANS) Heather Knight’s majestic maiden T20I century helped England to a record-breaking 98-run victory over Thailand in the Women’s T20 World Cup at the Manuka Oval on Wednesday.
The England skipper led an emphatic response to defeat against South Africa, blasting 108 from 66 balls to become the fourth batter to make a hundred at the event and send records tumbling.
England’s total of 176/2 was their highest T20I total and Knight’s unbeaten third-wicket stand of 169 with Nat Sciver was the highest partnership for any wicket in Women’s T20 World Cup history.
Thailand managed 78 for seven from their 20 overs, with England’s victory by 98 runs the largest winning margin at the tournament.
All this was scarcely conceivable after a remarkable start to the game with the 2009 winners being reduced to 7/2, both England openers dismissed for ducks for just the second time in T20Is.
Nattaya Boochatham, leading T20I wicket-taker in the world in 2019, sparked wild celebrations as her arm ball beat a charging Amy Jones and she was stumped second ball.
Opening partner Danni Wyatt then perished for a golden duck, slicing Soraya Lateh to cover point where Wongpaka Liengprasert dived forward to take an excellent catch.
Just as in their defeat to the Proteas in Perth, Sciver combined security with expansive stroke play to grasp the impetus, scoring her third half-century in four innings.
Knight showed similar restraint and punished medium-pacer Chanida Sutthiruang when she strayed leg side, twice hooking to the boundary as the pair raced to a 50-run stand from 34 balls.
Knight swept Ratanaporn Padunglerd over backward square for six to reach her half-century from 34 balls, another expertly-judged sweep notching up the 100 stand in the 15th over.
The England captain moved past 90, lifting Liengprasert over long-on in an over that cost 17, and became the fourth England player to reach three figures with a cut for two in the final over.
Her side posted an imposing 176 for two and it took England just four balls of the Thai reply to strike, Anya Shrubsole jagging one back through Boochatham’s defences and trapping her lbw for 0.
Natthakan Chantam impressed with her power through the off-side, driving Katherine Brunt handsomely to the cover boundary and then cutting Sciver to the fence inside the powerplay.
With the fielding restrictions relaxed, the flow of runs came to a virtual halt with 12 runs coming from five overs from spinners Sophie Ecclestone, Sarah Glenn and Knight.
From there on it was one way traffic as England cruised to victory as Thailand lost their way.
Brief scores: England 176/2 (Heather Knight 108 not out, Nat Sciver 59 not out; Nattaya Boochatham 1-18); Thailand 78/7 (Natthakan Chantham 32; Anya Shrubsole 3-21, Nat Sciver 2-5)