The captain’s 108 not out from 66 balls powered England to a 98-run victory over Thailand in Canberra that gets their T20 World Cup back on track following the opening defeat to South Africa on Sunday.
Knight put on a partnership of 169 — the highest stand in T20 World Cup history — with Nat Sciver to help her side recover from a terrible start to the match.
Having been put into bat, England lost both their openers for ducks to be seven for two. Amy Jones was stumped advancing down the track, then Danni Wyatt drilled to cover.
Knight and Sciver were unconcerned, though. Sciver notched her second half-century of the tournament as Knight went into overdrive, smashing 13 fours and four sixes to carry England to 176 for two and take the game beyond Thailand’s reach Down Under.
Only two Englishmen, Alex Hales and Dawid Malan, have scored T20 centuries, but neither of them can pair it with both a Test and ODI century.
Tammy Beaumont and Wyatt have scored T20 centuries for England Women but have also not completed the full set.
Knight’s hundred was also the first for England Women at a T20 World Cup. Thailand, appearing at the tournament for the first time, never threatened to chase down 177, with Anya Shrubsole picking up a wicket in the innings’ first over.
She went on to take three and pulled off a direct hit run-out. Sciver capped a fine all-round performance with two for five in two overs, while Sophie Ecclestone also took a wicket in a tidy spell. Thailand finished with 78 for seven.
“It’s nice to get a hundred and it’s nice to get the win,” said Knight. “Nat and I wanted to stay positive and keep our intent — batting where we do you sometimes need to rebuild before you can counter-punch and build again at the end.
“I don’t often score quicker than Nat.”
England must still see off Pakistan (Friday) and West Indies (Sunday) to qualify for the knockouts.
Knight will be delighted that Friday’s game is again at Canberra’s Manuka Oval — all four of her T20 scores of more than fifty have come at the ground.
“I like batting at Canberra, I think it suits my game,” added Knight.
“And I’m really happy to get an IT20 ton because I’ve put a lot of work into developing my game in this format.”