Sciver promises ‘positive’ England in decisive T20 against New Zealand

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England v New Zealand: Destructive Devine guides New Zealand to victory

England will “play with positive intent” in Thursday’s decisive final Twenty20 international against New Zealand, says Nat Sciver.

It is a winner-takes-all game at Taunton with the series poised at 1-1.

England comfortably won the first T20 at Chelmsford by 46 runs before New Zealand bounced back at Hove thanks to Sophie Devine’s all-round heroics.

Sciver has been captain in the previous two matches in the absence of Heather Knight, who has a hamstring injury.

Despite the disappointing result in the second match, England are not planning on changing their approach for the final game.

“We still back our batters to take on their shots and still bring that positive intent to hopefully get over the line at Taunton,” Sciver said.

In that loss in the second fixture, England were without Knight and pace bowler Katherine Brunt was rested. Playing without their two most experienced players – one the captain and the other the leader of the bowling attack – was always going to take some adjustment for England’s otherwise young side.

“It’s massive not having them in our side and unfortunately we did miss them,” said Sciver. “But as a squad we want to adapt make sure that the new players on the pitch are contributing, but we didn’t quite manage to do that.”

England still had the world’s best T20 bowler Sophie Ecclestone in their ranks, but their attack certainly missed Brunt’s knowledge and expertise – they bowled a disappointing 19 wides in New Zealand’s innings.

Given that Brunt was rested and not injured, it is likely she will return to strengthen England’s side and boost their chances of victory, but the severity of Knight’s injury remains uncertain.

For New Zealand, they will take confidence into the must-win game, having looked like an entirely different team from the first fixture.

They dropped four catches at Chelmsford and looked very much like a side without enough cricket under their belts, in contrast to England – whose players benefited from a full summer of professional domestic cricket including The Hundred.

But, boosted by a rejuvenated Devine, they were dominant at Hove and looked clearer with their bowling plans.

After the game, Devine said: “Winning is a habit. There were some nerves, but we had full confidence the girls would get the job done.

“We know we’re growing and it is nice to put it all together, and to bounce back quickly from the first game.”

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