Alice Capsey struck a masterful 21-ball half-century to lead England to a second Women’s T20 World Cup triumph as they eased to a four-wicket win over Ireland in Paarl.
The 18-year-old, who was picked up by the Delhi Capitals in the inaugural Women’s Premier League auction while in the field for England, set up her side for victory with 34 balls to spare.
Having bowled Ireland out for just 105, England reached their target comfortably but there were some warning signs along the way for Heather Knight’s side as they lost six wickets in the process.
Capsey broke the record for England’s fastest 50 in women’s T20 internationals before she was caught by a diving Leah Paul at long-off, to finish with 51 from just 22 deliveries.
England had been cruising towards the win, at 70 for one, but lost a number of quick wickets chasing down the low total, with Katherine Sciver-Brunt hitting the winning runs.
Ireland had headed into the game full of confidence after a shock victory over Australia in the warm-ups ahead of the tournament, but were unable to capitalise on a quick start with the bat.
Gaby Lewis top-scored with 36 at the top of the order as they powered to 27 without loss in the first four overs before a slightly odd delay for an injury and a loose stump-mic wire.
But despite an impressive start, Ireland lost steady wickets in the middle of the innings, including a double-wicket maiden for Sophie Ecclestone, who was also one of the big-name picks in the WPL auction.
Ireland slid from 80 for two to 105 all out with Ecclestone and Sarah Glenn picking up three wickets apiece, with Charlie Dean claiming another two as the spinners capitalised.
In reply, England started as they finished the first match against the West Indies, looking for the boundaries rather than being content just to rotate the strike, despite Ireland’s low total.
Sophia Dunkley chipped the ball straight to mid-on moments after getting off the mark with a boundary to become the first wicket of the second innings in the first over.
The wicket brought Capsey to the crease and, along with Danni Wyatt (16), she powered England into a dominant position with a 66-run partnership, but then the wickets started to fall.
Nat Sciver-Brunt, who was the joint-highest overseas pick in the WPL, scored just five before she was caught in the deep, with Knight and Amy Jones also out before England got over the line.