In the end, England struggled to chase down 106 and defeated Ireland by four wickets in the Women’s T20 World Cup thanks in large part to Sophie Ecclestone and Alice Capsey.
Ecclestone and Sarah Glenn each claimed three wickets as Ireland was dismissed for 105 in 18.1 overs at Paarl.
In response, England was coasting as Capsey amassed a half-century off just 21 balls, which was the joint-fastest total in the history of the competition.
They were able to accomplish their goal with 34 balls to spare, but they faltered late in the chase, losing five wickets for 33 runs.
In a partnership of 66 runs with Danni Wyatt, Capsey, 18, who had earlier in the day signed a £75,000 agreement with Delhi Capitals in the Women’s Premier League, broke the back of England’s pursuit.
Ireland blew a good opportunity after a quick start that saw them reach 80-2 before Gaby Lewis’ dismissal for 36 in the 13th over set off a stunning collapse of eight wickets for 25 runs.
Ecclestone, who received a £180,000 contract in the WPL, followed up her 3-23 in the triumph against the West Indies with another strong outing to cement her status as the top-ranked bowler in the world.
With the victory, England now leads Group B, and their aggressive strategy has increased their net run rate, greatly enhancing their prospects of making it to the semifinals.