Rain-interrupted game goes hosts’ way after India Women falter with the bat
England Women launched its ICC Women’s Championship campaign with a 42-run victory on the D/L method over India Women in the first of three One-Day Internationals on Thursday (August 21), thanks largely to an impressive all-round performance from Heather Knight.
While the match was abandoned late on a day that was punctuated by frustrating rain delays, the victory will no doubt be a relief to the England camp after its disappointing loss to India in the one-off Test match at Wormsley last week.
It was no surprise to see Charlotte Edwards elect to field after winning the toss in blustery conditions, and Anya Shrubsole made the most of the moving new ball, taking two wickets in the first six overs before bad light and rain interrupted play. Thirush Kamini was caught behind chasing an outswinging delivery, while Karuna Jain paid for an indecisive shot against a shorter delivery that was well taken by Knight at first slip.
After a 10-minute delay, Mithali Raj, the captain, and Smriti Mandhana steadied the Indian ship, adding 38 runs before the covers came out once more.
Mandhana, 18, backed up her impressive Test debut in which she scored a classy half-century with another fine display of classic cover drives, while Raj smashed any ball in the slot back over the bowler’s head.
Raj’s 34 took her past Karen Rolton, the former Australia batter, as the third-highest run scorer in women’s ODIs with 4825 runs, before she feathered a perfect length delivery from Jenny Gunn to Sarah Taylor, who had an excellent match behind the stumps.
Mandhana remained as anchor, bringing up her second consecutive ODI half-century with an elegant square drive.
After Harmanpreet Kaur’s weak attempt to sweep Knight was brilliantly taken by Edwards at backward square leg, VR Vanitha and Mandhana took advantage of the Power Play to lift India’s run rate.
But just as the Indians looked set for a fast finish, Mandhana was run out for 74, beaten by sharp fielding by Gunn at square leg when she was sent scrambling back to the non-striker’s end by Vanitha.
It was a disappointing end to a fine innings, which included eight boundaries, the majority timed perfectly through the covers.
Two overs later, Jhulan Goswami fell in almost identical fashion, also sent back by Vanitha, and India was stuttering at 158 for 6.
Perhaps feeling some responsibility for the previous two wickets, Vanitha came down the wicket to Knight in the next over only to see the bails whipped off by Taylor.
While Shikha Pandey’s 21 off 14 balls at the end of the innings took the total to 193, it was always going to be a difficult score to defend on a good batting track.
Originally chasing 195 for victory, Edwards and Knight, the opener, scored half-centuries to lay the platform for England’s win.
Edwards and Knight were aggressive from the start, dispatching virtually every loose ball to the ropes and, when the covers came out after five overs, England had raced to 44.
Neither batter seemed interested in taking quick singles – 20 of Edwards’s 22 runs had come from boundaries while Knight’s 21 included four balls smashed through the outfield.
England was cautious when play resumed, scoring just two runs off the first three overs. But after being generally anchored to the crease, Edwards discovered her feet, dancing down the wicket to take on the left-arm spin of Ekta Bisht.
From there, the openers cruised towards the target, which had been reduced to 184. But both Edwards and Knight fell soon after reaching their respective half-centuries, Edwards playing on as she attempted to cut Bisht and Knight caught by a diving Vanitha at midwicket.
With seven wickets remaining and only 31 runs required, Sarah Taylor and Lydia Greenway were steering England to a comfortable victory when the covers came out once more and the match was called off, with England well ahead on the DL count.