England put their World Cup first-night nerves firmly behind them as Heather Knight and Natalie Sciver stamped their authority on the 2017 tournament in emphatic style.
Sciver joined Knight at the crease with the England captain playing cautiously, her side in a mildly precarious position at 42 for two. Kainat Imtiaz had removed both openers with a steady spell of seam bowling, Taylor lbw and Beaumont caught behind. But while the 2,169-strong crowd, including hoards of Leicestershire schoolchildren, were a little fretful, neither the England captain nor her powerful partner showed any signs of tension.
And, as the seamers gave way to spin, the game changed apace. Fast forward exactly thirty overs and the pair had added 213 runs, equalling England's highest third-wicket partnership in ODIs, and all but putting the match beyond their now-weary opponents.
Knight had scored 106 from 109 balls when she lofted a drive to long-off, by which time Sciver was well into the teens of her ton; she reached three figures from just 76 deliveries. Sciver then provided the marquee moment of the innings, putting the returning Asmavia into the stands with three consecutive sixes, each one bigger than the one before. She perished the following over trying a similar trick, but departed to a standing ovation, having entertained and delighted with her 92-ball 137.
Danni Wyatt and Fran Wilson then hammered home the advantage, adding 59 from 35 balls before Wilson was bowled trying a ramp shot. Wyatt finished unbeaten on 42 as England posted 377 for seven, their highest team score in World Cup history and their fifth-best ODI total.
Knight on Sciver: "It was the best innings I've seen her play. She hit the ball cleanly from ball one, and she's definitely one of the cleanest strikers of the ball in World cricket."
The innings slowed to a crawl with Pakistan seemingly in awe of England's gargantuan score, but young opener Ayesha Zafar proved a bright point with a sixty-five ball half-century displaying some classy stroke-play along the way. Sadly for her, she had little support from her partners, Asmavia becoming the third wicket to fall, lbw to Alex Hartley for five.
When the rain arrived, bang on schedule at 4.30pm, there was no hesitation getting the players off the field. The stands were soon empty, too, as a near-deluge made it apparent quite quickly that there would be no further play.
So, a 107-run win (D/L) and onto Taunton, where Sri Lanka await. They gave New Zealand a run for their money for a fair portion of Saturday's game at Bristol, but lost by eight wickets in their warm-up against the hosts, and that was before today's dominant display.
photo Cheltenham jockey club
photo Cheltenham Racecourse