Smriti Mandhana headlines India’s clinical effort in ODI series opener

Smriti Mandhana during her innings © Getty Images

Smriti Mandhana led a collective batting effort as India eased home in a moderate chase after an all-round bowling performance in the ODI series opener. Even though she couldn’t reach the three-figure mark, Mandhana headlined the chase with Yastika Bhatia and Harmanpreet Kaur contributing with fifties in the first ODI at the County Ground in Hove on Sunday (September 18).

Frugal and fruitful beginnings with the ball

Opting to bowl first, Jhulan Goswami – in what could be her final series – started the spell with an impeccable spell where she bowled two maidens and conceded only eight runs. Despite conceding two boundaries early, Meghna Singh also got the ball to move away from the right handers as England were restricted to a sedate start.

Both bowlers and India were rewarded eventually with the wicket of the openers, Meghna accounted for Emma Lamb with a bouncer and Goswami trapped Tammy Beaumont in front of the wicket as England could gather only 26 runs from the first ten overs with the loss of those two wickets.

Although, Sophia Dunkley and debutant Alice Capsey scored a  few boundaries to get England slightly back on track, India struck again with Harmanpreet pulling off an incredible catch at short mid-wicket to send Capsey back off Sneh Rana. Dunkley and Amy Jones also fell soon after as the hosts were reduced to 94 for 5 in 27 overs.

Lower order recovery

Danielle Wyatt looked the best batter on show and played a few delicate shots through the off-side and also swatted Harleen Deol through mid-wicket. But just as she was looking good for more, Wyatt was bowled by Deepti Sharma for 43 when the batter went for a sweep.

From 128 for 6, England needed Alice Davidson-Richards – playing only in her third ODI – to hold the lower order together. The allrounder started with an early boundary, but then settled down in the company of Sophie Ecclestone. The pair ran well between the wicket and also hit a few boundaries.

Ecclestone hit Rana for a couple of fours even as Harmanpreet bowled Goswami out in the 41st over. Deepti eventually broke the 50-run partnership in the 43rd over. However, Davidson-Richards found Charlie Dean for company and the duo added some quick runs for the eighth wicket. England scored 35 runs in the last five overs as Davidson-Richards brought up her first fifty in the format in the final over. They finished

For India, Deepti was the most successful with two wickets while five other bowlers picked up one wicket apiece.

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The wholesomeness of lefties

With Shafali Verma departing early, Bhatia joined Mandhana at the crease and the duo made great use of the pace provided by the England bowlers. Bhatia looked sublime early in the innings and outscored her senior partner. The wicketkeeper-batter started her knock with a square drive of Issy Wong, she was also good on the pull as India racked up 59 from the power play without any further loss.

Mandhana, at the other end, was her usual self with her trademark drives through the off-side, also delicately glided Dean to third for a four. Bhatia brought up her fourth fifty in the format off just 45 balls with a streaky boundary off Dean. But the off-spinner finally got the reward for a good spell when she bowled Bhatia in the same over.

Experience come to the fore

Even though India were in pursuit of a moderate target, it was up to the experienced duo of Mandhana and Harmanpreet to make sure that there wouldn’t any hiccup in the chase. With the skipper taking her taking her time, Mandhana took charge of the innings and brought up her fifty with a delicious boundary over mid-off. Harmanpreet guided Lamb to third find herself a four.

When they couldn’t find boundaries, the pair hit the ball into empty spaces and picked up a few braces. Meanwhile Mandhana pulled out a cheeky half-scoop through fine-leg for another boundary. At the other end, Harmanpreet was gaining confidence and ticked and scooped Kate Cross to fine-leg fence.

With the target getting closer, Mandhana shifted the gear and went aerial against Wong over long-on her for a maximum. However, she fell short of a century by nine runs when she top-edged Cross to Davidson-Richards at mid-on for 91.

Post Mandhana’s dismissal, Harmanpreet made sure that India didn’t suffer any more losses on their way to the  target. She brought up her 17th fifty with a single off Cross and then came down the track to hit Ecclestone for a four through extra-cover.

Brief Scores: England 227/7 in 5o overs (Alice Davidson-Richards 50*, Danielle Wyatt 43; Deepti Sharma 2/33) lost to India 232/3 in 44.2 overs (Smriti Mandhana 91, Harmanpreet Kaur 74*, Yastika Bhatia 50) by seven wickets POTM: Smriti Mandhana