Smriti Mandhana © AFP
Smriti Mandhana © AFP

India Women required 14 in 12 balls. Anya Shrubsole came into the attack, giving the Indian Eves familiar shivers, bringing back memories of Lord’s. It was over to Ekta Bisht and Poonam Yadav. This time they had a role to play with the bat. Shrubsole’s poor delivery allowed Bisht to slam the first delivery for boundary. To add to Shrubsole’s wounds, she had also overstepped adding another run to the Indian Eves’ tally.

Bisht and Yadav kept the singles coming that over. Poonam finally smashed a four. Shrubsole leaked 12 runs in that over. India were left with just 2 required to win. Shrubsole had a rough day at office: she went wicketless and conceded 44.

Let’s rewind back to 2017 World Cup, India required 14 from 18. Jenny Gunn and Shrubsole then cleaned up the lower order with 8 balls to spare and India lost the final by 9 runs. Today, India Women chased the target of 208 with a wicket and 5 balls to spare.

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Smriti Mandhana carried her golden form into the match. She kept Indian Eves alive in pursuit of 208 as she struck a string of boundaries to keep the scoreboard ticking. She lost Devika Vaidya for 15 and skipper Mithali Raj for nought. Raj became the most capped player in women’s ODI. She surpassed Charlotte Edwards (191) in the process. Jhulan Goswami is third on the list.

Despite losing the top-order batters, Mandhana continued to take England bowlers on. Harmanpreet Kaur provided her support, helping her add 51 for the third wicket. India were in good stead at 92 for 2 until Sophie Ecclestone trapped Kaur for 21. Mandhana then added 74 with Deepti Sharma.

England needed a breakthrough once again, and Georgia Elwiss rose to the occasion. She dismissed Sharma for 24 in the 36th over. Mandhana fell 5 runs later. India, after looking on course for victory, suddenly started sliding down. Ecclestone removed Sushma Verma, Veda Krishnamurthy and Goswami in succession.

The ninth wicket also fell by the 47th over. It was over to Bisht and Yadav, who added 18 for the last wicket to take India one up in the three-match ODI series, at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur.

Opting to bat, England openers Danielle Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont added 71 for the opening partnership. Then Yadav rattled the England top order removing the openers as well as Amy Ellen Jones. The Indian spinners then maintained pressure on the England batters. Bisht and Sharma cleaned up the middle-order. At one point, England were 141 for 7 before Fran Wilson and Danielle Hazelle then joined hands to take England beyond 200-run mark.

The second ODI will be played in the same venue on April 9.

Brief scores:

England Women 207 all out in 49.3 overs (Tammy Beaumont 37, Fran Wilson 45; Poonam Yadav 4 for 30) lost to India Women 208 for 9 in 49.1 overs (Smriti Mandhana 86; Sophie Ecclestone 4 for 37) by 1 wicket and 5 balls to spare.

Player of the Match: Smriti Mandhana.