England 202 for 2 (Beamont 87*, Sciver 74*) beat India 201 for 8 (Raj 72, Raut 32, Ecclestone 3-40, Shrubsole 2-33, Brunt 2-35) by eight wickets
A combined eight wickets from Sophie Ecclestone, Anya Shrubsole, Katherine Brunt, and Kate Cross, followed by fifties from Tammy Beaumont and Natalie Sciver helped England hand India an eight-wicket thrashing in Bristol to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series.
Chasing 202, and their 100th ODI win at home, England surpassed the opposition’s powerplay score of 27 for 2 in just 5.1 overs, their tally in the first ten overs 61 for the loss of Lauren Winfield-Hill’s wicket. The run rate throughout the innings remained a study in contrast to India’s: 82 for 1 in 15 overs as opposed to India’s 45 for 2 and 100 in the 19th over against India’s in the 32nd. The 150 came inside 29 overs and in another six overs, the hosts overhauled the target, the winning run – tellingly for India’s lacklustre all-round performance – coming off a wide.
Leading the charge in England’s pursuit was opener Beaumont, who remained unbeaten on 87. She spearheaded the chase with two fifty-plus partnerships – for the second and third wickets – worth 59 and 119 with Heather Knight and Sciver respectively. Sciver was also unbeaten, on 74.
Beaumont blunted India’s three-pronged spin attack with nimble footwork down the track, powerful drives on the off side, and copious use of the sweep shot. She reached her fifty, 13th in the format, brooming an innocuous offspinning delivery from Deepti Sharma past a diving Harmanpreet Kaur at deep square. A glorious inside-out lofted drive for four was the highlight in Beaumont’s gallery of pristine strokes that featured 12 fours and a six. Her six off Kaur to level the scores off the penultimate ball of the match was equally emphatic.
After Ekta Bisht provided the second breakthrough, taking the top of the off stump of Knight, who made a 30-ball 18 in what was her 50th ODI appearance as England captain, Sciver joined in the fun. India’s six-bowler attack looked far from threatening, as did their field placements and the fielding itself, and at no point did the visitors force errors off Beaumont or Sciver in a sustained manner.
Having begun cautiously, Sciver upped the tempo through a gradual acceleration en route to her 15th fifty in ODIs and the 2000-run milestone in the format. Dropped on 12 by Bisht, who pipped Sneh Rana to the second spin-bowling slot in the Indian line-up, Sciver brought up the century stand with Beaumont with a glorious hit over the bowler’s head, off Kaur.
Carting 10 fours and a six in her run-a-ball knock, Sciver took Bisht for the most runs – 22 off 14 – among India’s bowlers. The second free hit she swatted off seamer Shikha Pandey’s back-to-back front-foot no-balls in her fifth over was the pick of Sciver’s boundaries and it helped England near the 150-mark. Her offensive in Beaumont’s company ensured debutant Sophia Dunkley had to wait longer for her maiden ODI innings.
Earlier, under overcast, windy conditions, on a fresh pitch with decent carry and movement that changed little as the match progressed, five-over opening spells in the powerplay from Brunt and Shrubsole denied India any room to make an early imprint on the proceedings. In an exemplary display of discipline and reliance on scrambled-seam variations, the fast-bowling tandem parched India of scoring opportunities after England opted to bowl.
The short ball was also employed to good effect. Debutant Shafali Verma, who, at 17 years and 150 days old, became the youngest player – male or female – to represent India in all formats of the game, fell to a failed pull while backing away to a Brunt offcutting bouncer. In keeping with the overarching trend of sluggish scoring that underpinned India’s innings, No. 3 Punam Raut, too, failed to inject any urgency to their approach. First-change Sciver, who finished wicketless, conceded two fours in her second over, both to Raut’s front-foot punches. She struck a further two fours in her 61-ball 32 before her 56-run, 96-ball third-wicket stand with Mithali Raj ended with Ecclestone catching Raut off Cross at mid-off.
That England didn’t introduce spin, in the form of left-arm spinner Ecclestone, who finished with 3 for 40, or legspinner Sarah Glenn until the 21st over and could hold back the second spells of their premier quicks, Brunt and Shrubsole, until well past the 30th over was a measure of the hosts’ control over the innings.
Kaur was the next to depart. Attempting to guide an Ecclestone arm ball towards third man, the India vice-captain’s back-foot stroke ended up offering the slightest of edges to wicketkeeper Amy Jones.
India crawled to 100 in 31.5 overs after Deepti Sharma joined Raj in the middle and reinstated the left-right combination. Shrubsole returned for her second spell in the 42nd over. Off the first ball, Raj reached her 56th ODI fifty to a loud cheer from the 1200-strong crowd with a lofted four over mid-on. A ball later, though, Sharma became England’s fifth – and Shrubsole’s second – wicket on the day, after her attempt to nudge one off the pads saw the ball ping her in front of the leg and off. India reviewed but without any success.
Pooja Vastrakar’s arrival at the crease marked a shift in gears for India. Raj showed more urgency at upping the run rate thereafter, slicing past point and picking the region behind short fine for back-to-back fours off Shrubsole, who gave away 15, the most in an over up to that point, in the 44th over.
An unsure attempt at dabbing the ball past the keeper in Ecclestone’s first over of her second and final spell had Raj lose the top of her off stump. An innings that had everything from her copping a blow on her forearm owing to a seeming reluctance against taking the short ball head-on to dropping anchor to allow for a rebuild, Raj’s 108-ball 72 proved pivotal in India’s pursuit of a respectable score.
Had it not been for No. 7 Vastrakar’s 17-ball 15, though, India may not have even got to 200. In the end, 201 proved far from adequate to challenge the defending ODI world champions.
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha