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Sophie Ecclestone breaks record as ruthless England wrap up series against Pakistan

Sophie Ecclestone of England poses for a photo during the 2nd Women's Vitality IT20 match between England and Pakistan at The County Ground on May 17, 2024 in Northampton, England.
Sophie Ecclestone: a superstar for England - Getty Images/Alex Davidson

England beat Pakistan by 65 runs

Sophie Ecclestone became England’s leading wicket-taker in T20 cricket at the age of just 25 as Pakistan were comprehensively beaten at Northampton to go 2-0 down in the three-match series.

Pakistan were outgunned with the bat and bowled out for just 79 in 15.5 overs, Ecclestone with three for 11, including the 115th wicket of her international T20 career, which took her past Katherine Sciver-Brunt to top spot for England in just her 80th game.

Her strike rate of 15.09 is better than any England bowler to have played more than 20 matches and she surpassed Sciver-Brunt’s tally in 32 fewer games. Ecclestone is hunting down Pakistan’s Nida Dar, who on a night of bowling records. Moved past Megan Schutt with the most wickets in women’s T20 (137).

“I had no idea (about the record),” said Ecclestone. “When I saw the screen I didn’t know I had taken that many wickets for England. Katherine is someone I always looked up to, I got her autograph a few times and overtaking her is a bit surreal. We are both hot heads on the field and wear our hearts on our sleeves and I think she will be pleased for me.”

A coolish early summer evening in Northampton attracted a good crowd and plenty of Pakistan supporters. A green tinged pitch is a long way from the conditions England will face at the World Cup in Bangladesh in October but this was a good run out because Pakistan bowled and fielded well to make them work hard for their 144 total.

Nobody really looked settled apart from Nat Sciver-Brunt whose 31 off 21 balls was the sparkiest innings of the evening, even though Alice Capsey was named player of the match for muscling five fours in the powerplay.

The worry for England is how they struggled to move the ball around against the spinners, despite a big outfield and plenty of gaps, and they have some thinking to do. It was either fours or dots for most of the innings. England go hard with the bat and hit boundaries but will need more options against spinners squeezing them on slow pitches in Bangladesh.

Sciver-Brunt was the only batter from either side to find her timing and showed no sign of rustiness, hitting her first ball for four after missing the opening game of the series as she recovered from an egg freezing procedure. She hit three fours in four balls as Pakistan gave her too much width and also played the shot of the night – a reverse over backward point. But Sciver-Brunt fell in the 15th over as Pakistan continued to make breakthroughs to peg England back. It took some big hits from Danielle Gibson, striking 17 off the final five balls of the innings, to lift the target realistically out of Pakistan’s reach.

“We had to think about taking on slower bowling on a slower pitch and lost a bit of momentum in the middle but I’m really pleased,” said Heather Knight, the England captain. “It is good practice for Bangladesh.”

Pakistan never really threatened to achieve their highest run chase away from home and once England’s spinners took hold of the match they did not let go, sharing seven for 25. Pakistan lacked the power to hit fours and only two batters reached double figures.

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