Jhulan Goswami’s farewell tour started with a flourish as the 39-year-old helped India restrict England to 227 for seven in the first one-day international at Hove on Sunday, despite an unbeaten maiden ODI half-century from Alice Davidson-Richards.
India then rollicked to their target in 44.2 overs with seven wickets in hand, thanks to fifties from Yastika Bhatia, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana – the latter falling just nine runs short of a century.
“In practice, we had spoken about trying to be more on the front foot,” Mandhana said. “We learned a few things from England’s mistakes – a few of them got out on the back foot. I am a back-foot player, but I was trying to tell myself to be on the front foot.
“It’s all about the mindset when you go out to bat – I have to keep telling myself not to get carried away.”
Curiously, England chose to omit the two seamers who had been most effective in the T20 leg of the series – Lauren Bell and Freya Davies –and then failed to bring Sophie Ecclestone, their premier bowler, into the attack until the 17th over, when the match was already half-won.
The result hands India first blood in the new ICC Women’s Championship cycle, with the win worth two points in the race towards automatic qualification for the 2025 World Cup.
In a five-over opening spell, Goswami sent down two maidens and spoiled Tammy Beaumont’s first outing for England since she was controversially omitted from their Commonwealth Games squad in July, trapping her lbw for seven with a ball which seamed in and would have gone on to hit leg stump.
“A series win in England would be something which we all would try to give to her as much as we can, because she’s been an amazing, amazing player for us,” Mandhana said.
At the other end, Meghna Singh surprised Emma Lamb with a bouncer which took the top edge of her bat and sailed through to the keeper, leaving England 21 for two in the ninth.
From there England lost regular wickets, eventually finding themselves 128 for six.
After a break for the Commonwealth Games, the Hundred, and the T20 leg of this India tour, and with few opportunities to rejoin their regional teams in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, it was a wobbly display which showcased England’s rustiness in 50-over cricket.
Some naivety from Alice Capsey, on ODI debut, could perhaps be excused – trying to smash it through midwicket, she fell to a brilliant one-handed catch by Harmanpreet.
But Sophia Dunkley, who earned two reprieves via DRS playing across the line to Rajeshwari Gayakwad, limply played Harleen Deol into the hands of cover in the 25th, underlining her weakness against spin.
Two overs later, Amy Jones was bowled by one that kept low from Gayakwad.
England missed the solidity of Heather Knight and Nat Sciver; but Davidson-Richards was the next best thing, allowing her team to pick up the pace in the final 20 overs via partnerships with Danni Wyatt (43 off 50), Ecclestone (31 off 33) and Charlie Dean (24 not out off 21).
England’s resistance was helped by a costly error from Deepti Sharma, who put Ecclestone down on nought off her own bowling; the off-spinner did managed to trap her lbw eventually.
Davidson-Richards eventually brought up her half-century in the final over of the innings, with a four slammed through square leg.
“It’s a bit bittersweet,” she said. “I’m really happy to get the 50 and get the girls up to a score, but fundamentally we didn’t get enough runs and then we didn’t bowl well enough to defend that sort of total.”
Shafali Verma was caught at midwicket in Kate Cross’s first over – Dean pulling off a diving stunner. But by the time the seamer struck again – Mandhana top-edging to mid-on in the 37th – her silky stroke play had reduced the target to just 30 runs.
Kaur did the rest, smashing runs through the leg-side before finally slog-sweeping Davidson-Richards over deep midwicket to seal the win with a maximum.