Team India registered a convincing five-wicket win against England in the first match at the Manuka Oval, Canberra on Friday (January 31). Courtesy a good show from the bowlers and the captain Harmanpreet Kaur who played a sheet anchor's role to take the side to the finish line.
India won the toss and opted to field first. Put into bat, England faced early troubles as India spinners did not let them free their arms. Rajeshwari Gayakwad who was brilliant in the recently-concluded Challengers Trophy maintained her red-hot form with the ball after returning in the national squad.
She started with the dismissal of Amy Jones in the first over and soon sent Danielle Wyatt in the dugout who hit straight to Shikha Pandey at the backward point. All-rounder Natalie Sciver and captain Heather Knight then started building the partnership.
However, that wouldn't take place if India players would have managed to grab the catches. Sciver got an early life by Harmanpreet Kaur while batting at eight. Even Knight was about to dismiss at six when Jemimah Rodrigues failed to grab the catch. But it was Radha Yadav who successfully broke the partnership, dismissing Sciver back for 18.
Soon, Shikha Pandey joined her by removing Fran Wilson for seven. She was brilliant with her change of pace. With this, England started struggling at four for 59 in the half-way mark. Until then, Harmanpreet Kaur led India have ticked all the boxes of their plans but somehow someone has another plan.
Fran Wilson's dismissal brought Tammy Beaumont on the field who is an opener but her addition in the middle-order becomes useful for the T20 format. With her at the crease, Knight took the onus on her shoulder. With timely boundaries and sixes, she brought up just her second T20I half-century off just 38 balls.
After that, she played more fiercely, adding 17 more runs in only eight balls before getting dismissed in the deep off Pandey for her career-best T20 score 67. Her dismissal broke the 69-run partnership with Beaumont as well. Apart from her, Beaumont scored a quickfire 27-ball 37 with 4 fours and a six and England eventually posted 147 runs for 7 in 20 overs.
Shikha Pandey, Deepti Sharma and Rajeshwari Gayakwad picked up two wickets each while Radha Yadav took 1 for India.
While chasing 148, India started well with Shafali Verma's attacking ability from the very first over. Another opener Smriti Mandhana, who got an early life on her very first ball off speedster Katherine Brunt, hit three boundaries in the same over. But she failed to stay long as Natalie Sciver cleaned her up for 15.
Jemimah Rodrigues finally got some runs and added 37 runs along with Verma for the second wicket. They didn't play any rash shot but maintained the strike rate with singles and timely boundaries. But Knight sent Verma back in the hut for 30 and Brunt to Rodrigues for 26.
However, Harmanpreet Kaur stood strong at the one end while India lost Veda Krishnamurthy and Taniya Bhatia in quick successions. At one point, it was looking tough for India to win but Kaur kept her nerves, remained unbeaten on 42 and helped India begin their journey with a win. Deepti Sharma also added 12 runs in the chase while Kaur finished off in style with a six, and three balls to spare.
Brief Scores: England 147-7 in 20 overs (Heather Knight 67, Tammy Beaumont 37; Rajeshwari Gayakwad 2-19, Deepti Sharma 2-30) lost to India 150-5 in 19.3 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 42*, Shafali Verma 30; Katherine Brunt 2-33) by five wickets.