England’s title defence heads to another must-win match against buoyant Pakistan
- Match 24: England Women v Pakistan Women
- Hagley Oval, Christchurch
- Thursday 24 March, 14:00 Local Time
A disastrous start to the group stage saw England put themselves under huge pressure at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, with the equation as simple as play four and win four to make it to the semi-finals.
But crucial wins over India and New Zealand have put England halfway towards achieving that rescue operation, and Knight’s side now face two of the opponents that they would have been most confident of beating when they were looking at their initial route to the final four.
Pakistan and final group-stage opponents Bangladesh are among the three lowest-ranked teams at the World Cup, and yet neither will be pushovers, with both showing plenty of quality and character during the tournament to date.
But England are hopeful that wins in their final two group games will see them come into top form at precisely the right moment.
“Tournament cricket is all about peaking at the right time,” England bowler Kate Cross said.
“So as long as we can keep going and keep making improvements, which I feel like we have since the first couple of games, then hopefully we can get ourselves into that knockout stage.”
For Pakistan, the ignominy of returning from the World Cup without a win has been avoided thanks to the deserved victory over West Indies in the rain-shortened match last time out.
And now Bismah Maroof’s side face what will feel like a free-hit against one of the giants of the game.
Victory over four-time world champions England would be a massive boost to the development of Pakistani women’s cricket, and captain Maroof hopes that the win over West Indies will give her side momentum.
“We wanted that win badly,” Maroof said. “We have done well but we haven’t crossed the line – we have talked in the group about how badly we needed a win but we had made mistakes at key moments.
“It was a great effort by the girls – credit to everyone. Now we are looking ahead and we will try and take this momentum forwards.”
England Squad: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Freya Davies, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Amy Jones, Emma Lamb, Nat Sciver (vc), Anya Shrubsole, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Danni Wyatt. Travelling Reserves: Lauren Bell, Mady Villiers
Pakistan Squad: Bismah Maroof (c), Nida Dar (vc), Aiman Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Ghulam Fatima, Javeria Khan, Muneeba Ali, Nahida Khan, Nashra Sundhu, Omaima Sohail, Sidra Amin and Sidra Nawaz
Nashra Sundhu - The slow left-armer is Pakistan's most reliable performer with the ball and her impressive average of just over 28 at international ODI level is testimony to this. Sundhu is sure to be used in the middle overs of an innings to try and quell the run rate of opposition teams.
Tammy Beaumont - The England opener always seems to save herself for the big occasion, so expect to see the 30-year-old score plenty of runs in New Zealand. Beaumont topped the scoring charts at the 2017 ICC Women's Cricket World Cup with a whopping 410 runs and looked to be in good touch during the Ashes series against Australia.
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Captaincy Pick – Natalie Sciver
So often considered a generational talent in English cricket, Natalie Sciver’s international record has been good but not as great as her potential could see her reach. But if she clicks then the 29-year-old could lead her team all the way to the title, and her outstanding century in the loss to Australia hinted that she’s at the top of her game at precisely the right moment for England.
Must have – Bismah Maroof
Pakistan’s captain has provided one of the most striking images of the tournament so far, and her performances on the pitch have been noteworthy too. Her 78 against Australia’s high-quality bowling showed her class, and she’ll be looking to double up against England's dangerous attack.
This match will be played at the stunning Hagley Oval in Christchurch.
The famous grass bowl will also be the stage for the tournament’s second semi-final and then the final itself in April.
All eight teams at the tournament are playing each other across seven rounds in a league format.
The top four teams in the standings after the conclusion of the Group Stage will qualify for the semi-finals, which will be held in the final week of March.
England’s remaining tournament fixtures:
24 March v Pakistan
27 March v Bangladesh
Pakistan’s remaining tournament fixtures:
24 March v England
26 March v New Zealand