Heather Knight’s majestic maiden T20I century helped England to a record-breaking 98-run victory over Thailand in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.Also Read - Women's World Cup Final 2022 | Aus-W vs Eng-W | Alyssa Healy, Rachael Hayes Put Australia In Strong Position
The England skipper led an emphatic response to defeat against South Africa, blasting 108 from 66 balls to become the fourth batter to make a hundred at the event and send records tumbling. Also Read - Women's Cricket World Cup 2022, Semi-Final: England Beat South Africa, Set Up Summit Clash With Australia For Title
England’s total of 176 for two was their highest T20I total and Knight’s unbeaten third-wicket stand of 169 with Nat Sciver was the highest partnership for any wicket in Women’s T20 World Cup history. Also Read - Women's World Cup: Win Against Pakistan Was a Complete Performance, Says Heather Knight
Thailand managed 78 for seven from their 20 overs, with England’s victory by 98 runs the largest winning margin at the tournament.
All this was scarcely conceivable after a remarkable start to the game with the 2009 winners were reduced to seven for two, both England openers dismissed for ducks for just the second time in T20Is.
Nattaya Boochatham, leading T20I wicket-taker in the world in 2019, sparked wild celebrations as her arm ball beat a charging Amy Jones and she was stumped second ball.
Opening partner Danni Wyatt then perished for a golden duck, slicing Soraya Lateh to cover point where Wongpaka Liengprasert dived forward to take an excellent catch.
Just as in their defeat to the Proteas in Perth, Sciver combined security with expansive stroke play to grasp the impetus, scoring her third half-century in four innings.
Knight showed similar restraint and punished medium-pacer Chanida Sutthiruang when she strayed leg side, twice hooking to the boundary as the pair raced to a 50 stand from 34 balls.
Knight swept Ratanaporn Padunglerd over backward square for six to reach her half-century from 34 balls, another expertly-judged sweep notching up the 100 stand in the 15th over.
The England captain moved past 90, lifting Liengprasert over long-on in an over that cost 17, and became the fourth England player to reach three figures with a cut for two in the final over.
Knight has a remarkable record at Manuka Oval, with all four of her T20I 50+ scores coming in Australia’s capital, the most of any woman at a single venue in the format.
Her side posted an imposing 176 for two and it took just four balls of the Thai reply to strike, Anya Shrubsole jagging one back through Boochatham’s defences and trapping her lbw for 0.
Natthakan Chantam impressed with her power through the off-side, driving Katherine Brunt handsomely to the cover boundary and then cutting Sciver to the fence inside the Powerplay.
With the fielding restrictions relaxed, the flow of runs ground to a virtual halt with 12 runs coming from five overs from spinners Sophie Ecclestone, Sarah Glenn and Knight.
Ecclestone’s metronomic accuracy was rewarded with the second wicket as her quicker one foxed Chantam and pinned her in front for 32 from 53 balls.
Wickets tumbled with Sciver pouching two in an over as Nannapat Khoncharoenkai was bowled slashing across the line and Sutthiruang found mid-on.
Shrubsole returned to remove Thailand skipper Sornarrin Tippoch, stumped off a wide for one, before Liengprasert was run out by the seamer to make it 62 for six.
England’s resounding victory was capped when Shrubsole forced Onnicha Kamchomphu to chip to mid-off from the penultimate delivery.
Scores in brief
England beat Thailand by 98 runs, Manuka Oval, Canberra
England 176-2, 20 overs (Heather Knight 108 not out, Nat Sciver 59 not out; Nattaya Boochatham 1-18)
Thailand 78-7, 20 overs (Natthakan Chantham 32; Anya Shrubsole 3-21, Nat Sciver 2-5)