Heather Knight puts nightmare start in England win down to ‘desperation’

Heather Knight admitted England’s “desperation” to shine on the big stage was responsible for a top-order debacle before they recovered to beat Pakistan by 53 runs in the series-opening T20.

In front of a 12,241-strong crowd at Edgbaston and with the match televised on BBC Two, England’s bid to get on a run ahead of the Women’s T20 World Cup in October got off to a false start as they crashed to 11 for four.

Knight provided some much-needed stability to anchor the innings with 49 off 44 balls, putting on 67 with Amy Jones and 41 off just 19 deliveries alongside Danielle Gibson, who contributed a quickfire 41 not out.

In reply to England’s 163 for six, Pakistan reached 77 for three at halfway before capitulating to 110 all out in 18.2 overs, with Sarah Glenn taking four for 12 and Jones following up her 37 off 27 balls with four important catches behind the stumps on her 100th T20 appearance.

“I think if we are honest the scoreboard flattered us, we did some good things but we were probably a little off the pace,” Knight told the BBC.

“It was desperation to get going, a big crowd and trying to impose ourselves on the game. I wouldn’t look too much into it, we want our players to be aggressive, just at the right time.

“Me and Jonesy tried to stay calm, we talked about opportunities to score if we batted for a bit. Danni Gibson was a clutch player at the end, showing her potential.”

Knight reserved special praise for Jones, adding: “She is an unbelievable cricketer that goes under the radar, some of the catches she pulls off is brilliant. We almost take that for granted.”

England were without Nat Sciver-Brunt, who sat out the contest after undergoing a minor medical procedure, and the absence of the star all-rounder was felt during a nightmare start.

But two experienced heads in Knight and Jones restored order before youngster Gibson seized the initiative in an eye-catching 21-ball innings containing eight fours.

Pakistan were 57 for two at the end of the powerplay in contrast to England’s 29 for four at the same stage but the tourists never recovered following the run out of Sadaf Shamas for 35 off 24 balls.

England’s three-pronged spin attack of Sophie Ecclestone, Charlie Dean and Glenn put on the squeeze, with the latter the pick of the bowlers on her international return, having left the recent New Zealand tour early because of concussion.

“There were lots of learnings,” Jones said. “It’s good that it wasn’t a straightforward win.”

The three-match series resumes at Wantage Road in Northampton on Friday.

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