Natalie Sciver reigns supreme as England thump India in a rain-affected encounter
An enterprising fifty from Natalie Sciver and her quickfire partnership with Amy Jones headlined England’s batting in the first T20I at the County Ground in Northampton on Friday (July 9). Chasing a mammoth target of 178 to win, India’s innings was cut short at 54 for three in 8.4 overs when they were 18 runs behind the DLS par score, thereby handing England a win as they went to an unassailable 8-4 lead in the multi-format series.
Opting to bowl, Indian bowlers kept England on the leash initially with fielders backing up their efforts. The home side couldn’t find any boundaries in the first three overs even though they were able to keep the score above run-a-ball.
In the fourth over, England finally broke free when Tammy Beaumont swatted Arundhati Reddy for a four through mid-wicket. Danielle Wyatt followed it up with a boundary in the next over and the opening pair took on Deepti Sharma to take their score to 48 at the end of the power play.
In the eighth over, England lost their first wicket when Richa Ghosh took an excellent catch off Radha Yadav to dismiss Wyatt for 31 to end the 56-run partnership after India successfully took the review. Sciver started off in glorious fashion by smashing Radha for a boundary through covers in the first ball she faced.
Despite the loss of Beaumont in the next over to Poonam Yadav, Sciver took on the bowlers . She played shots off both the back foot and the front foot and used her feet well against the spinners. In the tenth over, she lofted Radha over extra cover for a six to take her score to 17 off the first six balls she faced.
However, India got another breakthrough in the form of Heather Knight when she ran herself out after hitting one straight to the bowler Sharma in the 12th over. That brought Amy Jones to the crease and the duo of Jones and Sciver took on all the India bowlers. Sciver came down the track to hit Rana for a boundary before backing it up with another four in the same over. Jones was severe on Radha as she hit the left-arm spinner for 16 runs including three boundaries in the 15th over while Sciver emulated the same feat against Reddy in the next over.
India’s spinners didn’t have any answers to the pair as Jones smashed Sharma for a four and a six to take England’s score to 149 at the end of the 17th over. At the other end, Sciver brought up her fifty from just 24 balls. In the 19th over bowled by Shikha Pandey, India managed to pick three wickets to make a comeback in the contest with some brilliance in the field. Sciver was picked up on long-on boundary for 55 by a diving Harmanpreet Kaur before Harleen Deol pulled off a stunner at long-off to send back a dangerous-looking Jones. Sophia Dunkley was stumped by Ghosh in the final ball of the over to complete the successful over.
England eventually finished on 177 for seven with Sophie Ecclestone hitting Sharma for a six in the final over.
For India, Pandey was the most successful bowler with figures of three for 22 while Poonam and Radha took one wicket each.
In the chase, India were handed a big blow by Katherine Brunt in the first over when she bowled Shafali Verma for a duck after the right-hander backed away expecting a bouncer. Smriti Mandhana didn’t let Verma’s dismissal affect her and took on Sciver to launch her over mid-off and then followed it up with two boundaries off Brunt in the next over. Deol also joined the party when she smashed Freya Davies through mid-wicket for four. Mandhana slogged Ecclestone for a four to take the score to 35 at the end of the fifth over.
Just as it looked like Mandhana will continue her free scoring ways when she hit Sciver for back-to-back boundaries, she was caught on the boundary by Ecclestone when she went for a lofted pull and was dismissed for 29 off 17. Soon, India found themselves in further trouble when they lost Kaur for just one with the Indian skipper trying to take on Sarah Glenn.
From 47 for three, Deol and Sharma batted through to 54 for three in 8.4 overs when the persistent drizzle became heavy and the umpires deemed it was too heavy for the match to continue and the play was stopped. India were long way behind the DLS par score of 73 at that time.
Brief Scores: England 177/7 in 20 overs (Natalie Sciver 55, Amy Jones 43; Shikha Pandey 3/22) beat India 54/3 in 8.4 overs (Smriti Mandhana 29; Sarah Glenn 1/6) by 18 runs (DLS method). POTM: Natalie Sciver