England Defeats Harmanpreet’s India By Nine Wickets In Opening T20I
Image: IANS

Chester-le-Street: Despite the absence of stalwarts such as regular captain Heather Knight, veteran seamer Katherine Brunt and all-rounder Nat Sciver, England thrashed the Harmanpreet Kaur-led India by nine wickets in the opening Women’s T20I at the Riverside Ground here late on Saturday to take the lead in the three-match series.

Riding on an unbeaten half-century from Sophia Dunkley (61 off 41 balls), England overhauled the meagre target of 132/7 for the loss of just one wicket — Danni Wyatt (24) — in just 13 overs to complete the mauling of the visitors.

After leg-spinner Sarah Glenn wrecked India’s innings, returning figures of 4/23 — her best figures in T20Is — on a wet Durham ground, Dunkley anchored the chase, smashing eight boundaries and a six as the hosts cruised to victory with 42 balls to spare.

Dunkley, who was lucky to survive several calls, recorded her second half-century and the highest score in the format. She also shared partnerships of 60 and 74 with Wyatt and Alice Capsey respectively.

This was sweet revenge for England who lost to India in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Following a guard of honour and a minute’s silence in memory of Queen Elizabeth II, India came out to bat with Smriti Mandhana being the first to depart in the fourth over on 23. Three overs later charismatic young opener Shafali Verma too returned to the pavilion.

An unbeaten cameo from middle-order batter Deepti Sharma — 29 off 24 balls — gave some respectability to the total.

Later, Harmanpreet blamed the damp conditions for the below-par performance of the side.

“It was not 100 per cent, the conditions to play cricket, but still we put in the efforts,” Harmanpreet was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

“The ground was too wet and there were so many chances to get injured — and one of our players (Radha) got injured also, she was our main bowler and that’s why we were one bowler short. But the way we were putting in the effort, I’m really happy,” she added.

Brief scores: India Women 132/7 in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 23, Deepti Sharma 29 not out; Sarah Glenn 4/23) lost to England 134/1 in 13 overs (Sophia Dunkley 61 not out, Alice Capsey 32 not out) by nine wickets.