England sneak home in opener
England took a scintillating first NatWest Women’s Series one-day international against New Zealand by one wicket with only three balls to spare.
Chasing 232 to draw first blood in the five-match rubber, captain Charlotte Edwards was guiding her side to victory when she became part of a late wobble.
Edwards underpinned England’s chase with a composed 70 from 81 balls, featuring seven fours, but Nicola Browne and Lucy Doolan each claimed three wickets to leave the game in the balance.
It was left to number nine and player of the match Katherine Brunt, who had earlier taken 3-31 in the White Ferns’ 231 for eight, to complete the job.
Opener Maria Fahey’s 61 and 50 from Sophie Devine had ensured a competitive total at Taunton, also the venue of Monday’s second game.
New Zealand skipper Aimee Watkins chose to make first use of the batting-friendly conditions, but Brunt broke through early on when she trapped Natalie Dodd in front for nought.
Fahey and Suzie Bates fared better until Jenny Gunn had the latter caught.
Amy Satterthwaite and Fahey shared a half-century alliance, but the former perished to Holly Colvin for 38, courtesy of Gunn's running catch at midwicket, before Sara McGlashan was run out without scoring.
Brunt returned to bowl Fahey, whose innings occupied 106 balls and included four fours and a six.
Browne only lasted two deliveries before departing for a duck in the same fashion to leave the White Ferns 148 for six.
Devine played fluently to boost the ailing innings and received useful support Watkins.
Isa Guha, yesterday called up in light of Nicky Shaw’s international retirement, was instrumental in Devine and Watkins’ downfalls as she took catches off Laura Marsh and Gunn.
However, Doolan and Rachel Priest played late cameos to ensure a competitive total.
England’s pursuit began slowly as Browne had Sarah Taylor cheaply caught behind.
Fellow opener Heather Knight and Claire Taylor dug in, but Doolan struck a crucial blow to have Taylor held for 24.
Knight followed in the off-spinner’s next over, stumped for 32, and Beth Morgan was caught first ball to leave the hosts teetering at 79 for four.
Edwards and Gunn responded before Bates trapped the latter in front for a run-a-ball 31.
Marsh matched Gunn’s score, albeit from nine more deliveries, as she and Taylor put England back on course with 81 for the sixth wicket.
But Marsh was held off Satterthwaite and Browne castled Danielle Hazell to leave 12 required with three wickets left.
That became seven with just two in hand when Edwards was run out and five from the last pair as Colvin was caught off Browne.
However Brunt, with support from Guha, held her nerve to hit Devine for four to clinch a dramatic victory.
Edwards said: “I’m really pleased to get the series off to a winning start.
“Katherine (Brunt) put in a fantastic bowling performance and there were some good contributions from the batters.
“I always enjoy batting here, I was pleased to get a good score today, I’m looking forward to coming back on Monday.”