There was a stark difference in the setting. There was a time warp of eight-plus months. Still, the first rubber of the three-ODI series between India and England had an uncanny similarity with the famous World Cup final these two teams were involved in, last July. From the home team's perspective, the most important aspect was the result. While the lower middle-order caved in, to Anya Shrubsole's onslaught at Lord's in the World Cup final, the last pair of Ekta Bisht and Poonam Yadav held its nerves together and help India scrape to a thrilling escape by a solitary wicket.
If India had lost its last seven wickets for just 28 runs at Lord's in 2017, the Jamtha saw India batsmen suffering hara-kiri to turn a cruise towards the target of 208 into a point of no hope, at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium on Friday. Having lost six wickets for 24 runs – including that of the set opener Smriti Mandhana – when Yadav joined Bisht – one of only two India women who didn't feature in the World Cup final – the ghosts of that fateful evening at Lord's had come back haunting to India's change room.
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But the duo of Yadav and Bisht – just like the way they had done with the ball – brought India back with a crucial 18-run partnership. While the duo held its nerves, Shrubsole, the lord of Lord's, who was leading her team in an ODI for the first time, with Heather Knight not having recovered from the hamstring injury she suffered in Mumbai last week, crumbled under pressure this time around.
With 14 runs required in the last two overs, Shrubsole started the over with a no-ball and Bisht pulled it, only to see the deep backward square-leg making a mess of a regulation stop and concede a boundary instead. Those five runs and an additional ball relieved the pressure and last-bat Yadav then virtually sealed the deal with an on-drive for a boundary. Natalie Sciver bowled a wide to hand India a famous win, only underlined the fact that England Women crumbled under the pressure.
Earlier in the morning, Yadav's loopy leg-breaks brought India back into the match with Tammy Beaumont and Danielle Wyatt giving the visitors a solid start. Introduced into the attack, with England 70 for no loss in 11 overs, Yadav coerced Wyatt and Amy Jones into false strokes in her first over to peg things back for India. Then she and the rest of the spin bowlers built on it to restrict England to 207.
England Women 207 in 49.3 overs (Fran Wilson 45, Tamsin Beaumont 37, Danielle Hazell 33; Poonam Yadav 4 for 30, Ekta Bisht 3 for 49) lost to India 208 for 9 in 49.1 overs (Smriti Mandhana 86; Sophie Ecclestone 4 for 37, Georgia Elwiss 2 for 14, Danielle Hazell 2 for 34) by 1 wicket.
Mithali Raj, the India captain, earned the distinction of making the most appearances in Women's ODIs. Raj, the highest run-getter in Women's ODI history, overtook Charlotte Edwards' 191 ODI appearances when she walked out for the toss. While she couldn't open her account during India's chase, Raj would be happy to end the day on the winning side.