Bisht scythes through England lower order to set up win

From 135/6, England lost its last four wickets in quick fashion, with spinner Ekta Bisht (4/25) grabbing the last three in one over.

Ekta Bisht celebrates the wicket of Alex Hartley.   -  PRASHANT NAKWE

The India women defeated England by 66 runs in the opening One-Day International of the three-match series at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Friday as the visiting team lost its last four wickets for just one run.

On the eve of the match, Indian captain Mithali Raj had made it clear that the series, a part of the ICC Championships, is extremely crucial, and the win puts the team in a comfortable position in the lead-up to the 2021 World Cup.

AS IT HAPPENED

After being sent in to bat, India’s openers Jemimah Rodrigues and Smriti Mandhana started steadily. Top-scorer Rodrigues missed out on a second ODI half-century when she was caught and bowled by Sophie Ecclestone, and India’s middle order collapsed after the local girl’s dismissal, going from 85/1 to 95/5.

Captain Mithali (44) and Taniya Bhatia (25 off 41) stitched together a partnership of 54 runs, but a communication gaffe saw the latter getting run out. Mithali, who batted for the 181st time in her ODI career – becoming the first woman cricketer to do so – fell soon after when she was trapped leg before by Georgia Elwiss. Jhulan Goswami’s 30 off 37 balls then ensured India crossed the 200-run mark.

In the absence of Harmanpreet Kaur, India had brought in debutant Harleen Deol, but the youngster could only manage to score a couple of runs.

Crucial run-out

Chasing 203, England looked settled till the 32nd over. At 114/4, Natalie Sciver (44) was backing skipper Heather Knight, but her run-out tilted the game in India’s favour.

From 135/6, England lost its last four wickets in quick fashion, with spinner Ekta Bisht (4/25) grabbing the last three in one over.

Goswami's (L) late cameo enabled India women to cross the 200-run mark. PHOTO: Prashant Nakwe

 

Knight, who remained unbeaten on 39, had said ahead of the series opener that her side would chase history by defeating India in its own backyard for the first time. But she looked helpless in the middle without any support as her teammates failed to figure out India’s spin bowlers.

READ | Perseverance pays off for Harleen Deol

While the host grabbed two points in the ICC Women’s Championship, Mithali’s team has plenty to ponder.

India won the ODI series in New Zealand in January, but its middle order wasn’t tested there. On Friday, in a crunch situation, the middle order fumbled, and the Indian team management needs to address the issue with two crucial matches to go.

India and England meet in the second ODI at the same venue on Monday, with the final fixture scheduled for Thursday.