Heather Knight’s England century seals ODI series win over New Zealand

Captain Heather Knight struck a magnificent century in the fourth ODI at Derby, as England overcame New Zealand’s total of 244 with three wickets left – their highest ever successful run chase in one-day internationals – to seal a 3-1 series win with one game left to play.

“We haven’t been at our best as a batting group the last couple of games and I was desperate today to be the one to try and hit a big score for the team,” Knight said.

She labelled her knock of 101 her best innings in 50-over cricket, adding: “It’s a bit of a monkey off my back. I haven’t got another ODI hundred since the first one, in the 2017 World Cup.”

A career-best four for 47 from seamer Hannah Rowe ensured the run chase was not without tension. Rowe’s first spell reduced England from 52 without loss to 71 for three. Lauren Winfield-Hill (33) was bowled by a ball that jagged back off the pitch, while Tammy Beaumont (16) edged behind and Nat Sciver (11) tangled herself up playing around a straight one and was trapped lbw.

Knight shared a century partnership with Amy Jones to calm English nerves, but Rowe struck again in the 38th over – Jones (40) toeing to mid-off with 74 runs still needed. Amy Satterthwaite then trapped Sophia Dunkley lbw for a duck, to leave England 185 for five in the 40th over.

Rowe’s final over, though, cost 13 runs – including a six smashed over the legside by the unflappable Danni Wyatt (27 off 27 balls) – and Knight calmly continued on her way to three figures, bringing up the milestone with a drive through backward point in the 47th over.

Both eventually fell in the 49th over, Knight holing out to deep midwicket before Wyatt heaved across the line and was trapped lbw. But Anya Shrubsole walloped Leigh Kasperek down the ground for four before biffing a single – and despite Katey Martin whipping off the bails to stump Sophie Ecclestone, Kasperek’s delivery was wide, sealing the deal with three balls to spare.

Earlier New Zealand had been reduced to 33 for three in the powerplay after Knight won the toss and inserted the visitors. Suzie Bates (17) had sent Shrubsole’s first two balls of the series crashing to the boundary, but in the sixth over she hit the ball to Sciver at midwicket, dashed down the pitch, was sent back and dived too early. The wicketkeeper, Jones, ran Bates out an inch short of her crease.

Shrubsole, who had sat on the sidelines for the first three ODIs after spraining her ankle in training a fortnight ago, then took wickets in successive overs: Tuesday’s heroine Maddy Green gently plonked one into the hands of Freya Davies at mid-on for a duck, before Lauren Down (41) was deceived by a beauty that swung in and straightened to take out her off stump.

Sophie Devine took on Ecclestone, slogging her over deep backward square for six, but was trapped lbw by Charlie Dean (three for 52) nine runs short of her half-century. Devine’s appeal to the third umpire was more in hope in expectation: ball tracking indicated the impact would have been halfway down middle stump.

Half-centuries from Satterthwaite (54) and Martin (65 not out), and some hefty ball striking from Brooke Halliday (28 from 19) at the back end of the innings, though, saw New Zealand recover to 244 for eight.

England’s slip-ups in the field helped them on their way. Ecclestone put down a caught-and-bowled chance against Satterthwaite while she was on 13, while Martin was rapped on the pad by Dean when still in single figures, and was fortunate that England chose not to review it – replays showing that the ball would have gone on to hit leg stump.

“It’s good to contribute to the team – I haven’t done that for such a long period of time, in ODI cricket especially,” Martin said. “To compete regularly against the world champions is such a confidence builder for us.”