India 5 for 150 (Kaur 42*, Verma 30, Brunt 2-33) beat England 7 for 147 (Knight 67, Beaumont 37, Gayakwad 2-19) by five wickets
Harmanpreet Kaur held her nerve to steer India to victory with three balls to spare in the opening match of the T20I tri-series in Canberra after opposite number Heather Knight had helped England recover from a poor start with the bat.
India were well ahead of the rate early in the chase of 148 as Shafali Verma showed her power at the top and Jemimah Rodrigues gave glimpses of her class at No. 3, but made heavy weather of it in the second half. With 26 needed off 18 balls, it was starting to favour England. However, Kaur and Deepti Sharma got it down to six from the final over and the captain finished it with a lofted six.
Knight, who was dropped twice, led England’s revival with a career-best 67 off 44 balls as they rebounded from 4 for 59 to post a competitive total alongside a lively innings from Tammy Beaumont.
There were a couple of controversial moments during the match: Fran Wilson was bowled off what looked like a no-ball and Amy Jones, the England wicketkeeper, claimed a catch which had fallen to the ground in the first over of India’s chase before the third umpire reversed the decision.
Gayakwad dents England but fielding hurts India
Rajeshwari Gayakwad was playing her first T20I since June 2018 and made an early impression by removing Jones in her first over and Danni Wyatt in her second as England struggled early in the Powerplay. However, India’s fielding then started to let them down as Nat Sciver was dropped on 8 by Kaur at mid-off then Knight was spilled at deep midwicket on 5 by Rodrigues. Knight was missed for a second time on 13, although this was a tougher chance at long-on, the same over Sciver had fallen, which would have left England in a big hole.
Captain’s best and Beaumont’s new role
England were stumbling on 4 for 59 at the halfway mark after the somewhat controversial dismissal of Wilson, who was bowled by Shikha Pandey with what appeared to be a no-ball but was allowed to stand by the third umpire. Knight led from the front to put the innings back on track alongside Beaumont, who continued to settle into her new middle-order role which began in the series against Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur. The pair added 69 in seven overs as Knight brought up her second T20I half-century and progressed to her career-best score, while Beaumont showed her leg-side power, including a clean strike over long-on for six. However, when the pair fell, India closed out well as the final two overs cost just 11.
Jones catch controversy
It appeared England had struck a key early blow when Smriti Mandhana edged her first ball to Jones, who dived to her left to take the chance one-handed. However, replays showed the ball had spilled from Jones’ glove as she tumbled, although she continued to claim the catch. Mandhana was most of the way off the field when she was told to stop by team-mates and the on-field umpires went to the TV official. The only element of debate was whether Jones had been in control of the ball for long enough, but it soon became clear this wasn’t the case and the decision was overturned.
A Powerplay of 1 for 52, led by the contrasting styles of Verma and Rodrigues, put India ahead of the rate but then England started to squeeze once Verma had picked out deep midwicket. However, Kaur found the boundary often enough to ensure things stayed within the realms for India despite the struggles of Taniya Bhatia to find her timing. With 22 needed off 14 balls, Sharma managed a vital boundary off Sophie Ecclestone and was then dropped at long-on by substitute Mady Villiers from the first ball of the penultimate over, which ended up costing 11. Kaur made sure there was no late drama with a wonderful lofted drive off Katherine Brunt to seal the game.