eather Knight guided England to a record run-chase with an outstanding 101 to seal England’s One-Day International series against New Zealand.
The England captain scored her second ODI century as England hauled down New Zealand’s total to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.
Knight had appeared set to see her side home before picking out a diving Brooke Halliday in the deep.
It had appeared to precipitate a major wobble after Danielle Wyatt was also dismissed with the finishing line in sight, a powerful final-over blow down the ground for four from Anya Shrubsole steadied the nerves before a most peculiar ending.
With her eyes on glory, Sophie Ecclestone had sashayed down the track for an almighty heave, beaten by the drift from off-spinner Leigh Kasperek.
Yet the ball had drifted beyond the wide line in evading Ecclestone’s swipe, with umpire David Millns signalling the extra to seal England’s chase.
Ahead of a winter that will see them head to Australia for an away Ashes and then New Zealand to defend their Women’s World Cup crown, it was a timely reminder of England’s potential batting second.
Knight’s side had not overhauled a score in excess of 240 since 2015 and
Having won the toss, Knight opted to bowl first in a bid to exploit an emerald sheen on a Derby pitch that otherwise appeared good for batting.
She was rewarded by a fine new-ball spell from Shrubsole, fit to return to the side alongside Freya Davies and Nat Sciver, who removed both Maddy Green and Lauren Down after Susie Bates’ run-out.
Those wickets brought together experienced pair Amy Satterthwaite and Sophie Devine (41), who stabilised the innings before the latter was removed by a ball from off-spinner Charlie Dean that appeared to keep a little low.
However Katey Martin kept the momentum on in combination with Satterthwaite, recording her first half-century against England in 13 years and eventually finishing unbeaten on 65.
After Dean, again impressive in her debut ODI series, had removed Satterthwaite (54), a bright cameo of 28 from Brooke Halliday helped power New Zealand to 244-8.
England’s chase began well as they negotiated the opening powerplay without losing a wicket, with Lauren Winfield-Hill appearing in particularly good touch.
The opener was removed soon after the relaxing of the fielding restrictions, though, the first of four to fall to Hannah Rowe after a nip-backer defeated Winfield-Hill’s defences after tallying 33.
Tammy Beaumont (16) followed soon after while Sciver could make only 11.
Amy Jones and Knight steadied the ship, with the England captain showing a degree of timing unmatched throughout the 100 overs at the Incora County Ground, compiling her hundred both shrewdly and fluently as England paced their chase well.
Indeed that she had recorded just one hundred in ODI cricket previously was something of a peculiarity for a player who has made the number three spot her own.
Wicketkeeper Jones departed after a partnership of exactly 100 between the pair, while Sophia Dunkley soon followed her back to the pavilion for a duck.
Enter Wyatt, England’s nominal finisher at number seven, who again produced a most useful cameo to help England into the home straight.
Perhaps England’s best pure ball-striker, Wyatt has shown signs of dominance at the top of the order in T20 Internationals but came into this series with a curiously poor record in the longer format of the game.
Yet the 30-year-old has appeared rejuvenated in ODI cricket in this series, with a greater clarity over her role.
A battling, vital 63 not out at Worcester helped England to an above-par total on a tricky pitch in the second ODI and her injection of tempo was timely as she saw Knight to her century, achieved with a scrambled two, while ticking along at more than a run-a-ball.
There were nervous faces in the England dugout after Wyatt was trapped LBW by New Zealand skipper Devine but Ecclestone’s wipe and the widening of umpire Millns’ arms ensured the series victory was England’s.
The series concludes at Canterbury on Sunday in England’s final game of the summer.