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India got its ICC Women’s World Cup campaign off to a perfect start as it beat host England by 35 runs with an impressive all-round display at The County Ground in Derby.
A swashbuckling performance with the bat from 20-year-old opener Smriti Mandhana saw her hit 11 fours and two sixes in a brilliant knock of 90 from 72 balls.
She was ably assisted by opening partner Poonam Raut (86 from 134) and captain Mithali Raj – whose 71 was her 47th career ODI half-century, beating Charlotte Edwards’ all-time record – as India set an imposing target of 281 for three.
In response, England lost wickets at regular intervals, as Deepti Sharma took three for 47. In addition, there were four run-outs as India secured a comfortable win and Raj singled out her opening batters for particular praise.
“It’s important you get a good start like this and it was a brilliant partnership between the openers,” said Raj.
“Since both the batters were middling the ball well, it made sense for us to take the batting power-play early and we realised halfway through that innings we could get 250 and above.
“I knew the wicket wasn’t much help to the bowlers so it was important that the spinners especially put the ball in the right areas, which they did.”
Having been put in to bat, ICC Women’s World Cup debutant Mandhana played the role of aggressor to perfection, taking 16 off one Katherine Brunt over – including three glorious drives to the boundary through point from consecutive balls.
Raut played more conservatively, although she was dropped by Natalie Sciver when on 20, and then missed at long-off by Tammy Beaumont on 21, as the openers brought up their hundred partnership from 127 balls.
However, England finally got a breakthrough in the 27th over as Mandhana drove a Heather Knight ball straight into the hands of Danielle Hazell at mid-wicket, falling 10 runs shy of her second ODI century.
Raut and India skipper Raj kept the scoreboard ticking, and although the former was eventually out for 86 as Danielle Wyatt took a sharp low catch at deep square-leg off the bowling of Hazell, highly-regarded all-rounder Harmanpreet Kaur (24 not out) joined her skipper at the crease to set a total of 281 for three.
England needed its highest-ever successful ODI run chase for victory, but openers Beaumont (14) and Taylor (22) both fell early to the bowling of Shikha Pandey, before Sciver’s dismissal left the hosts at 67 for three.
Fran Wilson valiantly made her maiden ODI half-century with 81 from 75 balls, but the writing was on the wall when she became the third of four run-outs in the innings to make it 229 for seven and England eventually was all out for 235 with 2.3 overs remaining.
“It was a brilliant match – credit to India, they outplayed us and took the game away from us with the bat,” admitted England skipper Heather Knight.
“I expected the pitch and ball to do a bit more but we didn’t put it in the right areas. We didn’t hit line and lengths and India made us pay for that.”
Scores in brief:
India beat England by 35 runs at The County Ground, Derby
India 281-3, in 50 overs (Smriti Mandhana 90, Poonam Raut 86, Mithali Raj 71, Harmanpreet Kaur 24 not out; Heather Knight 2-41, Danielle Hazell 1-51)
England 246, in 47.3 overs (Fran Wilson 81, Heather Knight 46, Katherine Brunt 24; Deepti Sharma 3-47, Shikha Pandey 2-35, Poonam Raut 1-43)
Player of the match – Smriti Mandhana (India)
Next matches – England v Pakistan, Grace Road, Leicester, 27 June; West Indies v India, The County Ground, Taunton, 29 June