England began their three-match ODI series against New Zealand with a resounding eight-wicket win, thanks to half-centuries from Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight.
Their scores of 71 and 67* respectively helped England chase down a target of 179 in just 33.4 overs, after New Zealand, riding on fifties from Hayley Jensen and Brooke Halliday, posted 178 after opting to bat.
For England, this was a particularly striking victory, given it was their first ODI in nearly 14 months – they last played in the format in December 2019. They showed no signs of rust, the defending world champions putting in an all-round display to coast to a 1-0 series lead.
They were at it right from the start. The New Zealand top order wasn’t allowed to get away, with Katherine Brunt and Tash Farrant dismissing Natalie Dodd and Amy Satterthwaite for single-digit scores. It meant New Zealand were two down in the 10th over with just 34 on board, and had much to do.
Jensen sealed up one end and went about rebuilding the innings, putting on mini partnerships of 39 and 21 with Sophie Devine (16) and Amelia Kerr (13) respectively. She was dismissed shortly after bringing up her half-century – her 15th in ODIs – when Sarah Glenn cleaned her up, and when Kerr followed suit three overs later, New Zealand were 104/5.
It was then that Halliday, on debut, added some respectability to the total, denying the experienced England attack with a confident 54-ball 50. It was a fighting innings, in which she farmed the strike and guided the tail. Her knock helped New Zealand post a competitive target, and she was the last batter to fall, unfortunately being run out attempting to accelerate the total.
In the chase, England barely wobbled. Beaumont and Danni Wyatt put on a quick 42 for the opening wicket before Jensen provided the breakthrough by seeing off Wyatt. However, New Zealand couldn’t build on that opening.
Knight joined Beaumont, and the duo put on a 94-run partnership to take New Zealand to the brink of victory. Beaumont, having scored an 86-ball 71, was then dismissed by Lea Tahuhu, but the damage had already been done. Knight brought up her own half-century, and put on an unbroken 45-run stand with Nat Sciver (21*) to help complete an easy victory.
The second ODI will be played on Friday in Dunedin.
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