Mount Maunganui: Captain Heather Knight led the way with an unbeaten 53 as England beat India by four wickets in a crucial match of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup at Bay Oval on Wednesday.

After Charlie Dean’s four for 23 and a much-improved fielding show bowled out India for a paltry 134, England’s batting came to the party after an early wobble as the defending champions broke their winless run in the tournament.

Meghna Singh and Jhulan Goswami struck in quick succession as England lost openers Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont in the first three overs.

Wyatt pushed hard but found Sneh Rana diving full-length to her right at slip while Beaumont was trapped lbw in pad first on forward defence, giving Goswami her 250th wicket in ODIs.

Knight and her deputy Nat Sciver joined forces to get England’s innings back on track. While Knight got off the mark with a drive through cover point off Meghna, Sciver hammered Goswami for two boundaries and was even lucky in bails not falling off despite the ball hitting the stumps.

Sciver then welcomed Rajeshwari Gayakwad by taking nine runs off her first over, including two boundaries coming via sweep. The duo indulged in risk-free play and got boundaries with precision to keep England on course of chasing the target.

The 65-run partnership for the third wicket ended as Sciver was foxed by a short ball from Pooja Vastrakar and leading edge on pull flew to mid-on. Knight, sedate till then, began to dispatch anything full to the boundary rope with drive, steer and reverse-sweep through the off-side.

Amy Jones hit a delightful six down the ground off Gayakwad but two balls later, the right-hander tried to repeat the loft but was caught by a backtracking Harmanpreet, who timed her jump to perfection. After timing an extra cover for four off Meghna, Knight brought her 23rd ODI fifty in 66 balls.

She was ably supported by Sophia Dunkley, who fetched three boundaries in her first 14 balls with a fierce upper-cut over point being the standout shot. Dunkley’s cameo ended as she nicked behind to keeper Richa Ghosh off Meghna for a low, dipping catch.

One brought two for India as Meghna bounced out Katherine Brunt with Ghosh taking the catch off top-edge. Sophie Ecclestone finished off the chase with a pulled four through deep mid-wicket off Meghna, giving England their first two points in the tournament.

Brief Scores: India 134 all out in 36.2 overs (Smriti Mandhana 35, Richa Ghosh 33; Charlie Dean 4/23, Anya Shrubsole 2/20) lost to England 136/6 in 31.2 overs (Heather Knight 53 not out, Nat Sciver 45; Meghna Singh 3/26, Jhulan Goswami 1/21) by four wickets.