Sophia Dunkley eyeing ‘very special’ finale to England’s summer

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The hosts need to win the second ODI on Wednesday to take the series to a decider (PA)
The hosts need to win the second ODI on Wednesday to take the series to a decider (PA)

Sophia Dunkley has set her sights on a fitting finale to England’s international summer, but knows the prospect of a grandstand finish at Lord’s hinges on Wednesday’s must-win clash against India.

The third Royal London ODI between the sides will mark the first outing at the home of cricket for England’s women since the triumphant 2017 World Cup final, as well as head coach Lisa Keightley’s last match in charge.

But, having lost by seven wickets in the opening game, the hosts first need to square the scoreline at Canterbury to make their long-awaited return to St John’s Wood on Saturday a series decider.

“We need to win the next two games to win the series,” Dunkley said. “If we can set it up as a decider at Lord’s, that should make it a really great occasion.

“It will be Lisa’s last game with us and Tammy Beaumont’s 100th game, so to get it through to a decider would be great. We’ve got a lot to think about. It’s really exciting to be playing at Lord’s for the first time since the World Cup final, so we want it to be a very special game.

“We’ve had a lot on this summer – it takes it out of you – but to have that at the end adds that extra drive to finish the season on a high. We’ll put all our energies into these last two games.”

Dunkley finished as top-scorer in the recent T20 series between the sides, which England won 2-1, with 115 runs in three innings. India’s Smriti Mandhana was close behind on 111 and continued her strong form with a match-winning 91 at Hove in the first ODI.

The pair got to know each other during their time together at Southern Brave in The Hundred, but Dunkley has yet to discover any obvious chinks in Mandhana’s armour.

“We had a couple of conversations about batting and other stuff, but Smriti is just a very good, very experienced player. Her weaknesses are quite limited,” she said.

“But we showed in the T20s, if we can start really well, we can get through their top order and into the middle. We’ve just got to turn up and be at our best.

“We’ve done quite well analysing and if we execute let’s see what she can come back with.”

England have released Freya Davies and Maia Bouchier to play in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final, but can still freshen up their side with seamer Lauren Bell and all-rounder Freya Kemp waiting in the wings.