England will face India on Saturday with a place in the Commonwealth Games final at stake after routing New Zealand.
Chasing down a meagre 72 in just 11.4 overs to top Group B, the hosts’ rousing seven-wicket win on Thursday avoided a semi-final showdown against overwhelming favourites and Group A winners Australia.
Despite the absence of injured captain Heather Knight, England have been gaining in confidence after a disappointing winter as they recorded a sixth successive T20 victory this summer.
Katherine Brunt was almost unplayable in the powerplay, finishing with outstanding figures of 3-1-4-2, as New Zealand limped to 9-71 before England cruised to their third consecutive group win.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” said England’s stand-in skipper Nat Sciver. “New Zealand have been a strong side and they usually put up a pretty good fight. It’s really nice to have a calm win.
“If we start like that against any team I think we’ll be in a pretty good position. We’re not thinking about wins in a row, more about attitude and the way we’re playing, we’ve fallen into the rhythm of it.
“Taking on the ball when we’re batting and looking for wickets as much as we can when we’re bowling – that attitude has really helped us play with a bit more freedom and it seems to have worked.”
There were also two wickets apiece for Issy Wong and Sarah Glenn but Brunt hastened England’s charge, uprooting the leg-stump of Sophie Devine with an off-cutter in the opening over after the White Ferns captain had opted to bat first on a pitch where Sri Lanka were skittled for 46 against South Africa.
Maddy Green top-scored with 19 before being deceived by some late dip from Sophie Ecclestone, while Hannah Rowe (10 not out) was the only other New Zealand batter to reach double figures as the Kiwis recorded their third-worst T20 total and lowest in a completed innings.
Knight has been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament because of a hip injury and Sciver admitted not having the issue linger over England is a positive.
“It’s nice to not be like ‘is she gonna, is she not gonna?’ I feel like I’m in a pretty good rhythm with it,” Sciver added. “I’m very happy to take on the leadership role, it’s been fun.”
While New Zealand lick their wounds after a crushing defeat, they had already booked their semi-final spot and will now look forward to a clash against rivals Australia.