Jhulan, Shikha shine as India takes 2-0 lead

Shikha Pandey and Jhulan Goswami scalped four wickets each to bundle England out for 161, while Smriti Mandhana scored 63 as India won with 8.5 overs to spare.

With Jhulan Goswami (right) and Shikha Pandey both taking four wickets, it was the first time that two Indian women had done so in the same ODI.   -  Vivek Bendre

India’s women’s team outplayed England by seven wickets to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match One-Day International series at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Monday.

After pacers Shikha Pandey and Jhulan Goswami scalped four wickets each to bundle England out for 161, Smriti Mandhana played a classy knock of 63 as India reached the target losing just three wickets and with 8.5 overs to spare.

This helped the host collect two crucial points in the ICC Women’s Championships.

As it happened

Opting to bat first, England found itself in the middle of nowhere as Shikha put the pressure on the visiting side right from the start. She scalped four wickets for 18 runs, which is her career-best performance in ODIs. In the World Cup qualifiers in 2017, she had scalped a four-wicket haul while conceding 34 runs against South Africa.

Shikha was ably backed by her teammate, the vastly experienced Jhulan, who grabbed a four-for, giving away just 30 runs. This was the first time that two Indian women claimed four-wicket hauls in the same ODI.

For England, Natalie Sciver was the top-scorer with 85 runs. Even as wickets tumbled at the other end, Sciver stood firm to ensure that the visiting side crossed the 150-run mark. Pairing with Alex Hartley, Sciver stitched a partnership of 42 runs for the last wicket.

But in the end, it proved insufficient.

Though India lost opener Jemimah Rodrigues for a duck, Smriti stitched together a 73-run partnership with Punam Raut for the second wicket to ensure that India did not lose the plot, chasing 162.

Punam — who was brought in in place of Harleen Deol — however, was stumped by Sarah Taylor off Georgia Elwiss for 32.

But after her departure, Smriti built a 66-run partnership with captain Mithali Raj before being trapped leg-before by Anya Shrubsole.

By then, India were 22 short of the target, and with Mithali around, the team reached home safe without a further slip-up. She remained unbeaten on 47, while Deepti Sharma chipped in with six runs.

As the top batters looked calm and composed in the middle, there was no way the England bowlers could make an impact.

With series already in the pocket, India will play its last rubber at the same venue on Thursday. The aim, however, will be to ensure two more points from that game and grab the full six points in the ICC Women’s Championships. As the race for the 2021 World Cup qualification hots up, every points matter and India can’t afford to miss out.