Tammy Beaumont cemented her status as the world’s No. 1 hitter in ODIs, with an unbeaten 87, her fourth consecutive half-century in the format, as England advanced to an eight-wicket victory in the first ODI against India.
Along with Nat Sciver (74 not out), the pair added 119 runs on just 116 balls for the third wicket, executing beautiful elevated drives and perfectly placed sweeps in a dominant display at Bristol.
Sciver was brought down by Ekta Bisht on the short thin leg at 12, while India was so desperate to evict Beaumont that they wasted a precious DRS review trying to eliminate her lbw in the chase’s final second; Replays showed that Pandey’s ball had passed well past the stump of his leg.
Otherwise, the pair offered their opponents little hope, victory came, with 91 balls to spare, ignominiously through a wide leg from Harmanpreet Kaur.
“We are all maturing as players and working towards how we want to play for the World Cup,” Beaumont said at the end. “I stopped believing in the form. My role is to hit as long as possible for the team. I’ve been working to be ruthless and ruthless as much as possible, and it seems to be working right now. “
“She’s a real rock to us,” was Captain Heather Knight’s verdict on Beaumont. “It’s brilliant to see her do so well.”
India had previously been held to a disappointing 201 out of eight by a well-disciplined performance by England’s bowlers. Their captain, Mithali Raj, played the anchor role, hitting 72 of 108 balls before being thrown by an arm ball from Sophie Ecclestone (who claimed three of 40), but overall it was a disappointing effort after the heroic bats of the Fourth day for your team to save the test here last week.
England had sapped India’s hopes of hitting a grand total in the first 10 overs, as starters Shafali Verma (15) and Smriti Mandhana (10) fell cheaply. 17-year-old Verma, who was presented with her ODI cap before the game started, had made history before a ball was thrown by becoming the youngest cricketer to represent India in all three formats of the game.
For a few minutes, the future looked bright: Verma threaded the third ball that faced perfectly between the middle and the middle to mark a boundary, before throwing Katherine Brunt over the length. Brunt, however, had the last laugh, hitting shortly, tempting Verma on the hook and catching her midway. Meanwhile, Mandhana fell trying to cut Anya Shrubsole, touching his own stumps.
That left India 27 by two at the end of the power play; and another period of brutalizing gambling followed. Although Punam Raut and Raj shared a 56-run partnership for the third wicket, it took 94 balls to do so. Raj, who is in the 22nd year of his international career, looked clearly out of depth in English conditions, facing 43 balls before handling a limit. There was almost relief when Ecclestone made a catch midway at 26 to fire Raut. Two jumps later he stepped in again, this time out of his own bowling alley, for Harmanpreet to catch another arm ball.
India rallied somewhat in the last 10 overs of its innings, adding 67 runs despite losing four more wickets. Deepti Sharma, fresh off 29 no-out and 54 in the test last week, added 30 more to her series tally, while Pooja Vastrakar (15 of 17) faced Anya Shrubsole and won, sending the ball flying by. over his head towards the Limit in one over which he saw the English closer punished by 15 runs.
Raj, meanwhile, improved his own game: Having taken 95 balls to improve his half century, he added 22 more in the 13-ball space, before Ecclestone cut things off. Face (and place?) Saved, perhaps, but questions remain as to how India could revitalize its decaying middle order for the next two ODIs and beyond.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism