NAVI MUMBAI: There was something peculiar about the way Nat Sciver-Brunt batted against India in the 2023 T20 World Cup clash in Gqeberha. In the lead-up to the match, the conversation had been around whether the England batters were going to keep an eye on the Indian spinners' delivery stride to ensure that they were staying behind the crease at the non-striker's end. Nat, however, was doing more than just that.
In what was a crucial phase of play - England had lost three early wickets - the all-rounder was navigating the Indian spinners with ease. How? She was keeping a close eye on the release of the ball and what the delivery does from the non-striker’s end and was constantly passing the information, first to Heather Knight, and then to Amy Jones. Her 42-ball 50 might not have been the most impactful knock of the day, but what she did on the field was.
Cut to March 24, 2023, Nat found herself in the middle, this time for Mumbai Indians at the DY Patil Stadium, against the likes of Deepti Sharma and Rajeshwari Yadav, the duo she had taken apart at Gqeberha. It was the eliminator of the Women’s Premier League and the supreme all-rounder stepped up to the occasion against UP Warriorz.
She smashed an unbeaten 72 from 38 balls and helped Mumbai finish with 182/4 in 20 overs. In reply, Issy Wong took a hat-trick to seal the game for Mumbai. The scorecard, however, doesn’t tell the full story, especially about the way Nat batted. Having been dropped by her England teammate Sophie Ecclestone, Nat vowed to make the most of it. Against Ecclestone, she read the line early to shuffle across and lap her behind the square. When Parshavi Chopra came on and took a wicket, she put pressure on her immediately by rocking back and pulling her to the ropes. Against Sharma, she did not hesitate to jump down the track to hit her down the ground with a straight bat.
She did not stop there. The 30-year-old took the attack to Chopra, smashing her for 14 runs in three balls. Alyssa Healy brought on Grace Harris to contain the runs, but Nat squeezed a full delivery on the crease outside off-stump to drive it through the square point region. When Ecclestone followed her foot, she made room by moving towards leg-side to drive the left-arm spinner through extra cover to bring up her fifty in 26 balls.
From thereon, it was just carnage as the Warriorz spinners had no answers to Nat. Perhaps, what did not go their way is the fact that they had left out Shabnim Ismail for Harris. As a result, Nat ended up facing 33 of her 38 balls from spinners from which she smashed 65 runs.
Essentially, it was a spin-hitting master class from the England all-rounder. “She is the best in the world. To play alongside her is special. The way she strikes the ball it's pretty special. She steps up in big matches,” said Amelia Kerr, who had the best seat at the non-striker’s end, after the first innings.
In February, at the St. George's Park, Harmanpreet Kaur rued watching Nat taking on her spinners. On Sunday, she was among her biggest cheerleaders, for this time the all-rounder was doing it for her rather than against her.