England have had to deal with injury and illness in their ranks, so for them to come through for a comprehensive opening win in the Twenty20 Internationals against India was special, Tammy Beaumont has said.
Having lost the one-day international series 2-1, England, who were already without Sarah Taylor for the T20Is, were further depleted when their No.2 wicket-keeper Amy Jones fell ill, requiring Beaumont to take the gloves. Besides, Georgia Elwiss also found her series cut short, joining Sophie Ecclestone on the sidelines. Elwiss had a stress fracture, while Ecclestone had fractured her hand.
Yet, England put up a strong all-round performance to complete a 41-run win on Monday, 4 March. Beaumont starred with a half-century and played a part in two dismissals behind the stumps, even as the bowlers ran through the opposition's top order to reduce them to 46/5 at one point.
"Everyone stuck their hand up when it mattered and made a contribution. Given the adversity of the last 48 hours, with illness and injury, I think that was really impressive," said Beaumont, who described her innings as "one of the good ones".
She had special praise for the "exceptional" Heather Knight, who smashed 40 in just 20 balls, and the young Linsey Smith, whose left-arm spin got her two wickets. "She has come back in, first game of the tour, and first ball pretty much, [gets] a wicket – and not just any wicket but that of Smriti Mandhana," Beaumont praised Smith.
"She bowled to her plan, and she is really good ... she's got a big future. She has not played many games, but she has got a really good temperament. She is always up for the fight and that’s what you want in T20 cricket. If she gets hits a six then she wants to respond even more."
England lead series 1-0— ICC (@ICC) March 4, 2019
An all-round effort from Heather Knight and Co. power the visitors to a 41-run win over India in the first WT20I in Guwahati.#INDvENG SCORECARD ⬇️https://t.co/YgJeqABm7s pic.twitter.com/ZoGaGeX7sk
For India, the batting followed an all-too-familiar script of a collapse. Mandhana urged the top order to play more maturely while calling for patience with an inexperienced line-up. "It's important as a batting unit to take responsibility," she said. "As a batter who is settled, our top four – we have been playing for a long time now – I, Mithali [Raj], Jemi [Jemimah Rodrigues] have to take more responsibility and take the team through. We have to give a bit of cushion to the youngsters."
Leading the side in the absence of the injured Harmanpreet Kaur, she said she was not keen to experiment too much with the batting order or the playing XI, simply for the sake of trying something different. The team needed to back the youngsters, she suggested.
Captain @mandhana_smriti acknowledges the support the Indian team recieved in Guwahati today for the 1st T20I. She hopes to see an even larger number and wants to provide them with an improved show on 7th March. #INDvENG pic.twitter.com/hKL0QUPv1d— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) March 4, 2019
"I don't think it is the right time to experiment. We will have to stick with the same batting order, giving them more game time to prove [themselves]," she said. "When we came in the team, I don't think we started scoring in the second or third match. Everyone will be getting their chances. We are looking to win the matches rather than experiment."
The question of who should partner Mandhana at the top remained open. Harleen Deol, who made her debut, became the latest to be tried at that spot, but fell early for eight. Mandhana, though, backed her to come good.
"I just want the players to look confident," she said. "If they are confident enough, I don't look at what they have scored. So definitely, as I said, we aren't looking at too many changes just because of one loss. It is just her first match."