India women 202 (Rodrigues 48, Raj 44, Goswami 30, Ecclestone 2-27, Sciver 2-29) beat England women 136 (Sciver 44, Knight 39, Bisht 4-25, Pandey 2-33, Deepti 2-33) by 66 runs
Heather Knight, England’s captain, had talked up their squad depth ahead of the ODI series against India, but the side faltered in the first bout on the face of some superb bowling by India’s pacers and Ekta Bisht. The left-arm spinner picked up four wickets in the middle of a collapse – England lost seven wickets for 25 runs – as India took a 1-0 lead with an emphatic 66-run win while defending 202 at Wankhede Stadium.
Put in to bat, India started slowly and set themselves up with a 69-run opening stand between Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues, before they slid to 95 for 5. Mithali Raj, batting at No. 4, shored up the inexperienced middle order with a 74-ball 44. The final kick came courtesy Jhulan Goswami’s 37-ball 30 to give India’s bowlers something to defend.
In reply, England couldn’t really get off the blocks and kept losing wickets. It started with Shikha Pandey trapping Amy Jones plumb with a nip-backer in her first over. Sarah Taylor, returning from an anxiety-related issue that forced her out of the World T20, scratched around to make a 21-ball 10 before falling to a superb inswinger from Pandey. With no DRS in place, England were a tad unlucky as replays indicated the swing may have taken it down leg.
Deepti Sharma chipped in with Tammy Beaumont’s wicket before the repair work came about through a 73-run fourth-wicket stand between Knight and Natalie Sciver.
The pair received a reprieve each along the way, denying Poonam Yadav a wicket in the first and the last ball of the 25th over. Knight, on 22, mistimed a pull off Poonam to midwicket, where Bisht stuck her left hand out but was unable to cling on. Sciver, meanwhile, flashed hard at a legbreak that flew past wicketkeeper Taniya Bhatia.
Bisht, however, made up for the lapse with a superb effort off her own bowling in the 31st over. Knight’s leading edge went over to Bisht rather innocuously, but with Scriver having backed up too far down the pitch, Bisht had enough time to collect it and run the non-striker out with a back-hand flip. This proved to be a huge moment in the game. With England needing 90 off 18 overs with six wickets in hand, Bisht took centre stage by completing a triple-wicket over in the 41st to cap off a collapse.
“The total was perfectly chaseable,” Knight said after the game. “We bowled well, but were unlucky not to take more wickets up front. But we were more than happy with 200 to chase. It was sticky, it turned, but once you got to play 15-20 balls it became easier to play shots. The first 10-15 balls were the key. I don’t think we played it particularly well today. The pitch started to turn and deteriorated too. There was inconsistent spin as well which makes it harder.”
Earlier, India’s middle-order woes resurfaced, albeit not as telling in manner as in the T20Is in New Zealand. It’s perhaps with the knowledge that the middle order, especially with Harmanpreet Kaur missing, is a tad brittle that their openers started cautiously, with the first six overs producing just 11.
Those weren’t without drama, though. There was some raucous lbw appeals from the experienced pace pair of Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole. Rodrigues cut loose in the eighth over, flicking Shrubsole for two wristy fours. She countered the early movement deftly, picking the gaps for quick singles and eight well-timed fours in total.
Mandhana, however, didn’t look her fluent best, beaten at least thrice by Shrubsole, before chopping on while attempting to pull Georgia Elwiss in the 16th over. Promoted up the order, No. 3 Deepti became the first of left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone’s two victims thanks to some top-notch glovework from Taylor.
Ecclestone, the leading wicket-taker in the ODI series against India last year, denied Rodrigues a half-century as she popped up a return catch with a top edge. Harleen Deol, the batting allrounder who replaced the injured Harmanpreet, made an eight-ball two on her international debut.
One ball later, Mona Meshram, who had sat out all six matches across formats during the tour of New Zealand, was adjudged lbw, although the inswinger appeared to have struck her slightly high on the knee-roll. Thanks to Sciver’s double-strike, India had lost half their side for 95 inside 22 overs. Meshram’s dismissal capped a 42-ball frame during which India lost five wickets for 26 runs.
Raj, meanwhile, held up one end and forged a 54-run stand with Bhatia, whose 41-ball 25 helped India inch closer to 150. But after Raj fell in the 42nd over, it was largely down to handy cameos from Pandey and, especially, Goswami that India went past 200. Goswami followed a six and a four with a brace before holing out with two balls remaining. By then, she had done enough to give England a good run for their money.