England edge closer to World Cup semis after cruising past Pakistan | England women’s cricket team

England took a step closer to a World Cup semi-final berth with a comprehensive victory against Pakistan, bowling them out for 105 in 41.3 overs before a welcome return to form for Danni Wyatt (76 not out from 68 balls) saw the defending champions chase down the runs with nine wickets and 184 balls to spare – giving a healthy boost to their net run rate in the process.

Katherine Brunt, who before this match had taken only one wicket in the tournament, responded to her critics with a return of 3 for 17, before Sophie Ecclestone (3 for 18) wrapped up the tail.

Brunt said that she was happy to have finally made a contribution to the team, after a lean run of form with the ball. “We’ve been on tour a long time, 11 weeks away from home. When you’re having to turn up every day and put on a brave face, it’s difficult,” she said. “I’m a really competitive person, and I want so badly to contribute every game, in any way. I always want to be involved, so when you’re not, it genuinely feels rubbish.”

“That [first] wicket brought a lot of feelings out of me – I felt a lot of relief,” she added. “We will definitely take a lot of confidence from this and we will keep trying to gain momentum.”

England also pulled off two smart run-outs, as Pakistan were reduced to 59 for 5 in the first 25 overs of their innings and failed to claw it back.

England had won the toss and opted to bowl first, but struggled early on in their chase due to a hooping opening spell from Diana Baig. Tammy Beaumont was struck in front playing across the line in the fifth over, and Pakistan correctly opted to review the on-field not-out decision. Baig then consistently beat the bat of Heather Knight (24 not out), who hung around but left most of the scoring shots to Wyatt.

Wyatt was handed a reprieve with only four runs to her name, put down by Nida Dar at gully, and rubbed salt into the wound by sending the next three balls flying over the boundary rope. She snuck an edge past a diving Sidra Nawaz behind the stumps on 31, but was otherwise convincing, pulling hard through midwicket en route to her maiden half-century in World Cups. By the end she had banished the ghosts of England’s nervy run-chase against New Zealand on Sunday, lofting fours over mid-off with ease to hand England victory inside 20 overs.

Danni Wyatt clips the ball through the legside during her impressive innings for England against Pakistan
Danni Wyatt clips the ball through the legside during her impressive innings for England against Pakistan. Photograph: Peter Meecham/Getty Images

Pakistan had come into the match buoyed by their eight-wicket win against West Indies on Monday, breaking an 18-match losing streak that extended back to 2009, but this loss sealed their exit from the tournament. For England, a win in their final group-stage match against Bangladesh on Sunday will guarantee qualification for the semi-finals. On Thursday, South Africa, became the first nation from England’s group to secure a semi-final berth after their match against West Indies was abandoned.

Brunt has struggled in this tournament to find a consistent line and length, but – after working hard in the nets on Wednesday to correct a technical fault in her action – something finally clicked against Pakistan. Her first ball of the day was a beauty of an outswinger that found the edge of Nahida Khan and was snaffled by Heather Knight at slip, leaving Pakistan 0 for 1 in the blink of an eye. A second spell then yielded wickets in successive overs – Nida Dar trapped lbw, before Brunt nipped one back off the seam and bowled the top-scorer, Sidra Ameen (32 off 77).

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England veered between the sublime and the ridiculous in the field. Sophia Dunkley (at cover) and Ecclestone (at mid-off) were left staring blankly at each other in the 13th over after a leading edge from Omaima Sohail fell safely between the two of them – each expecting the other to go for the catch. Fortunately for England, Beaumont made up for the error in the very next over, running Sohail out with a direct hit from mid-off. Dunkley had herself earlier played a key role in the run-out of the Pakistan captain, Bismah Maroof, intercepting a throw-in from Amy Jones in front of the stumps after Maroof called for a nonexistent second run.

Knight, though, labelled it England’s “most complete performance” of the World Cup. The surprise omission of the off-spinner Charlie Dean from the XI meant that Knight instead brought herself into the attack in the 33rd over for a three-over cameo, which paid dividends when she claimed the scalp of Aliya Riaz with her second ball, caught top-edging a sweep to short fine leg. Kate Cross lived up to her “Mrs Consistent” epithet, rattling the stumps of Sidra Nawaz (23 off 44) in the 39th after sending down 35 dot balls, conceding only 19 runs from her eight overs. At the other end, Ecclestone’s inroads offered no respite. After forcing edges behind the stumps from Fatima Sana and Aiman Anwer, the left-armer finished things in style with a yorker to bowl Baig. England may have done some hard yards this tournament but on Thursday they made it look very easy indeed.

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