Smriti Mandhana’s stylish 91 off 99 balls marshalled India’s successful pursuit of 228 as they drew first blood in their one-day international series against England at Hove.
After England lurched to 128 for six having been asked to bat first, Alice Davidson-Richards registered her first ODI half-century, finishing 50 not out from 61 deliveries to lift the hosts to 227 for seven.
Kate Cross made an early breakthrough in the reply but Mandhana expertly anchored India’s chase in an innings – her highest in ODIs against England – containing 10 fours and one straight six off Issy Wong.
While Mandhana fell nine short of a ton and with her side still needing 30, India captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s 74 not out from 94 balls got them over the line with seven wickets and 5.4 overs to spare.
As India bounced back from a 2-1 Twenty20 series defeat to claim victory in this first ODI, England will rue reprieving Yastika Bhatia, who made a quickfire 50 off 47 balls after being dropped on seven.
Mandhana put on 96 with Bhatia then 99 with Kaur after Cross struck with her third ball of India’s reply, persuading Shafali Verma to flick to midwicket, where Charlie Dean took a fine diving catch.
Mandhana settled into her innings with back-to-back fours off Cross, driving then cutting the England bowler, although India could have been two down with just 20 on the board as Wong’s bumper caught Bhatia by surprise, with a flick off the glove put down by England wicketkeeper Amy Jones.
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It seemed a pivotal moment and England’s luck was summarised when Wong induced the inside edge of Mandhana later in the over only to see the ball sail past leg stump.
India’s batters were finding boundaries with ease – but Bhatia was given another reprieve on 25 after top-edging a pull, which went for six but only because Wong had strayed too far in from deep fine leg.
Two balls after reaching 50, Bhatia charged at Dean, who found a gap between bat and pad to bowl India’s number three, but Mandhana and Kaur were even more assured as they gave England few openings.
The only surprise was that Mandhana, who made an unbeaten 79 in India’s T20 win at Derby, was not there at the finish as she got a leading edge off Cross to mid-on.
Kaur, while not as fluent as Mandhana, took the baton and guided India to their victory target with a swipe for six off Davidson-Richards, who had earlier boosted England’s prospects.
England’s top order were unable to put together a partnership of any substance on a slow wicket – with Alice Capsey out for 19 on her ODI debut – and were 94 for five before Danni Wyatt, having helped the total to 128, was bowled for 43 on the sweep to leave them teetering.
But they were bolstered by Davidson-Richards, who made a century on her Test debut earlier this summer, with the number seven putting on 50 with Sophie Ecclestone (31) and an unbroken 49 with Dean (24).
Their efforts were in vain although England will look to bounce back in the second ODI at Canterbury on Wednesday.