EVOO: The graceful Smriti Mandhana once again she cemented her reputation as one of India’s greatest match winners with an eye-catching 91 that literally decimated England by seven wickets in the opening WODI here on Sunday.
Harmanpreet Kaur won a good draw and a veteran Indian pacer Jhulan Goswami was precision personified with 42 scoops in one of his last internationals as England went under-par 227 for seven, largely thanks to lower middle-order efforts.
India never had any problems during the pursuit because Mandhana (91 from 99 balls) literally drove and shot his way before missing a hundred-deserving sixth ODI by nine runs.
But the moment she was fired, Mandhana secured a 45th-place finish for Women In Blue, who now lead 1-0 in the three-game series.

Yastika Bhatia (50 from 47 balls), which did not do justice to his enormous talent, also marked his third half and scored at more than a run-a-ball strike rate.
Yastika-Mandhana’s second wicket of 96 in just 16.1 overs set the stage, then Harmanpreet (74 on 94) worked his way to fifty more by adding 99 runs with his assistant, then took him finished in style with a sweep six tagline.
Mandhana’s innings had 10 fours and a nice six over longtime player Issy-Wong.
As Yastika and Mandhana majestically swept through the covers during Powerplay, the Indian vice-captain also played plenty of shots with English bowlers drifting down the side of the leg.

It must be said that Harmanpreet read the conditions at the County Ground in Hove much better than his English counterpart Amy Jones.
While Indian spinners Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Deepti Sharma varied the pace of their deliveries to make strokeplay difficult, English seamstresses Kate Cross (2/43 in 10 overs), Alice Davidson-Jones (0/48 in 7.2 overs) , Wong (0/35 in 5 overs) with off-spinner Charlie Dean (1/45 in 10 overs) allowed the visiting team’s batters to use the pace of their deliveries to score runs behind the square .
In the first 15 overs, India hit 13 fours and a six (by Yastika) and it was over for England.
Previously, Goswami, the 39-year-old legend, was parsimonious, giving up just 20 runs in 10 overs with as many as 42 point balls.
She didn’t concede a single limit or six and also pulled off a nice counter kick to get rid of seasoned Tammy Beaumont (7).
On a track where the ball didn’t always land on the bat, India captain Harmanpreet Kaur did the right thing by opting for the pitch.
After seamer Meghna Singh (1/42 in 8 overs) rushed fellow opener Emma Lamb (12) with a short ball, Goswami and two spinners Deepti (2/33 in 10 overs) and Gayakwad (1/40 in 10 overs) muffled the flow of running consistently.
However, Sneh Rana (1/45 in 6 overs) and Pooja Vastrakar (0/20 in 2 overs) with Meghna sank a few points as the home team scored over 220 at the end.
Dani Wyatt (43 from 50 balls), Alice Davidson-Richards (50 from 61 balls) and Sophie Ecclestone (31) were the notable contributors for England.
Even Charlie Dean played a nice appearance (24 steps on 21 balls) towards the end to reinforce the target.
Harmanpreet will be a little disappointed that despite England coming on the mat at 128 for 6 in 34th place, England’s No. 7, 8 and 9 added over 100 points to give the total some respectability.



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