Stand-in captain Nat Sciver-Brunt hits a new high for England in milestone match

By Sports Desk September 14, 2023

Stand-in captain Nat Sciver-Brunt marked a landmark appearance with the quickest women’s one-day international century by an England batter against Sri Lanka at Grace Road.

On her 100th ODI, Sciver-Brunt led England in the absence of ill Heather Knight and thrashed a 66-ball hundred, beating the record held by Charlotte Edwards off 70 deliveries against New Zealand in 2012.

Her record might have lasted only a few minutes but Maia Bouchier, unbeaten on 95 off 64 balls at the time Sciver-Brunt reached three figures, fell lbw when a six would have seen her set a new benchmark.

The pair put on a boundary-laden 193 in 121 balls to lift England to a mammoth 273 for eight in a contest reduced to 31 overs per side because of a rain delay that pushed back the start time more than three hours.

In the final match of their summer programme, England, leading 1-0, slipped to 18 for two in the fifth over but it was one-way traffic from then on as Bouchier and Sciver-Brunt starred.

Sri Lanka’s coterie of spinners came in for sustained punishment as Sciver-Brunt, who eventually holed out for 120 off 74 balls, and Bouchier, in just her second ODI innings, routinely took them on.

England got off to a false start as Tammy Beaumont, having been put down at midwicket in the previous over, edged a wild heave to slip while a flat-footed Alice Capsey was undone when left-arm seamer Udeshika Prabodhani nipped through her defences.

However, Bouchier, who had already expertly timed Prabodhani over the leg-side fence, then unfurled two glorious drives for four to ignite England’s charge, with the end of the six-over powerplay and introduction of the spinners working to their advantage.

Sciver-Brunt’s ability to stay back in her crease but pierce the off-field gaps was frequently exploited while she brought up England’s 50 with a whip off Inoka Ranaweera for four before shimmying down to the slow armer and elegantly driving for six.

Chamari Athapaththu frequently rotated her slow bowlers but they erred in line and length too often with no one able to stymie either Sciver-Brunt or Bouchier, who bludgeoned a free hit off seamer Hansima Karunaratne’s only over for six.

England’s 100 was brought up in the 13th over but, after thumping Oshadi Ranasinghe for three successive fours, Bouchier overbalanced and should have been stumped on 55 but Anushka Sanjeewani was unable to gather cleanly.

Sciver-Brunt missed a pull on 96 off a delivery that skidded on and kept low from Prabodhani as Athapaththu belatedly brought back her quicker bowlers, but the deputy England skipper went to her 100 in the next over, nudging Kulasuriya off her pads for a single.

Bouchier missed a hoick across the line and was given lbw, wisely electing against a review, but later in the over, Sciver-Brunt took three consecutive fours off Dilhari.

Sciver-Brunt slammed Ranaweera to long-off with 5.1 overs still left, with England losing five wickets for 40 at the end of their innings, although they were still able to get to a formidable total.

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