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Women's T20 World Cup: England beat West Indies in opening game as batters and Sophie Ecclestone impress

England make winning start to T20 World Cup with seven-wicket victory over West Indies; Sophie Ecclestone takes three wickets, including Hayley Matthews, as West Indies limited to 135-7; Sophia Dunkley (34 off 18) and Nat Sciver-Brunt (40no) help England to target with 33 balls remaining

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Highlights as England thumped West Indies by seven wickets in their first match at the Women's T20 World Cup

England batted with the aggression they had promised as they began their bid for a first T20 World Cup title since 2009 with a rampant seven-wicket win over 2016 champions West Indies.

Sophie Ecclestone's 3-23 helped England limit West Indies to 135-7 in Paarl, while Sophia Dunkley (34 off 18) got the run chase off to a rapid start and then watched on as skipper Heather Knight (32no off 22) and deputy Nat Sciver-Brunt (40no off 30) took the team to their target with 33 balls to spare.

Knight had said in her pre-match press conference, and again at the toss, that England would continue the attacking mindset they have adopted since Jon Lewis became head coach in November and that proved the case as they scored at a rate in excess of 9.5 runs an over - a record for a side chasing over 100 in the Women's T20 World Cup.

West Indies vs England - score summary

West Indies 135-7 from 20 overs: (Matthews 42 off 32); Ecclestone (2-23), Glenn (1-20)

England 138-3 from 14.3 overs: (N Sciver-Brunt (40no off 30), Dunkley (34 off 18), Knight (32no off 22)

Ecclestone picked up the key wicket of West Indies skipper Hayley Matthews, lbw for 42 from 32 balls, after the batter had propelled her side to 69-1 from 10 overs and the England spinner went on to pin Afy Fletcher (10) and Zaida James (2) lbw in the 19th over as the Caribbean side faded in the final half of their innings.

A target of 136 did not challenge an emboldened England batting unit, one which had thumped 246 in a warm-up fixture against South Africa earlier this week, with Knight sealing an emphatic victory by striking Chinelle Henry for six over long-off.

Dunkley followed warm-up half-centuries against the Proteas and New Zealand with another brisk knock, taking the third over, bowled by Matthews, for 17 with a sublime straight six and two fours before she fell to an excellent return catch from Henry (2-22).

England's Sophie Ecclestone (R) celebrates after the dismissal of West Indies' Hayley Matthews (not seen) during the Group B T20 women's World Cup cricket match between West Indies and England at Boland Park in Paarl on February 11, 2023. (Photo by Marco Longari / AFP) (Photo by MARCO LONGARI/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: Sophie Ecclestone took three wickets as England limited West Indies to 135-7 before coasting to their target inside 15 overs

England too powerful for West Indies in Paarl

England had reeled off eight consecutive wins over West Indies on a tour of the Caribbean in December, sweeping a three-match one-day international series and then a five-match T20 international series, and their dominance of Matthews' team continued.

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West Indies were bolstered by the return of fit-again opener Stafanie Taylor but she made a tortuous three from 15 balls, taking 10 deliveries to get off the mark and overturning an lbw dismissal against Lauren Bell before being pinned in front by Sarah Glenn (1-20).

Matthews experienced no such troubles, with back-to-back boundaries off Bell in the third over and three fours off Katherine-Sciver Brunt in the sixth powering her side to 47-0 after the powerplay before Taylor's painful innings was ended an over later.

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England captain Heather Knight ran out Chinelle Henry with a direct hit from cover at Boland Park

England were at times loose with the ball, shipping 18 extras, but sharp in the field with Alice Capsey and Knight securing run-outs - and they were then forceful with the bat.

After Dunkley, Danni Wyatt (11 off nine) and Capsey (13 off nine) departed, Knight and Nat Sciver-Brunt kept the runs flowing with an unbroken stand of 67 from 44 balls as England laid down a marker to their World Cup rivals.

Australia are the overwhelming favourites to win this tournament and claim a third title in a row and sixth overall but England, having embraced the Bazball mentality that has reinvigorated the men's Test team and with a world-class bowler in Ecclestone, are real contenders.

'England want to walk towards the danger'

Player of the Match, Nat Sciver-Brunt...

"I was boundary-focused and happy to see the team home. We want to be aggressive, take the game on and walk towards the danger. The more we do that under pressure the better. We are adapting to the wickets really well. We are having fun out here and hopefully we can keep that going."

Sophia Dunkley (Getty Images)
Image: Sophia Dunkley hit five boundaries in her 18-ball 34 in Paarl as England eased past West Indies

Knight: Big step for England

England captain Heather Knight...

"It wasn't our best fielding and bowling performance, but we want to be fearless and take the game on and it was nice to have an easy chase. We tried to go hard at the top and be positive and score runs.

"This win was a big step to keeping that mindset in a big tournament. We have a lovely blend. The youngsters bring the positivity and are fearless. It's a nice mix and there is a good vibe around the group."

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Skipper Heather Knight and vice-captain Nat Sciver-Brunt say England will be aggressive and fearless at the T20 World Cup after thrashing West Indies in their opening game

'West Indies will take the positives'

West Indies skipper Hayley Matthews...

"We spoke about getting above 145 or 150. We had a decent start but weren't able to capitalise. It was still a fighting total. Every match is very important but the next one is crucial. We will take the positives and look at what we can do a bit better."

What's next?

Live Women's ICC World T20 Cricket

Live Women's ICC World T20 Cricket

England return to action against Ireland in Paarl on Monday (1pm start) and will not be taking their opponents lightly after they shocked tournament favourites Australia in a warm-up match. West Indies, meanwhile, play India on Wednesday.

India begin their campaign on Sunday against Pakistan (1pm) before Sri Lanka, who stunned hosts South Africa on Friday night, look to make it two wins from two when they meet Bangladesh (5pm).

Live Women's ICC World T20 Cricket

Live Women's ICC World T20 Cricket

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