England fell 35 runs short of victory against India in the Women’s World Cup curtain-raiser on Saturday.
The hosts won the toss and invited India to bat. The decision backfired somewhat as the England bowlers struggled to make the initial breakthrough. Punam Raut and Smriti Mandhana laid a fantastic platform for their side, batting past the halfway mark of the innings, in the process accumulating 144 runs for the first wicket. England finally received a reprieve when Danielle Hazell had Mandhana caught for 90.
Mandhana’s dismissal did little to curb the Indian onslaught, however, as Raut and new No 3 Mithali Raj led their side past 200. Both batters reached their fifties before Heather Knight accounted for Raut for 86.
Nevertheless, Raj continued to bat well and ensure that her side finished the innings well. Together she and Harmanpreet Kaur hammered the England bowlers at the death, adding 59 runs in the last seven overs to power India to 281-3.
The England reply got off to a steady start, Tammy Beaumont and Sarah Taylor scoring 33 runs in eight overs. Beaumont was the first to depart for 14. Taylor followed two overs later, the score 42-2. A brief 25-run stand saw England reach 67, before India struck once more.
Knight and Fran Wilson came together in the middle, and slowly but surely pulled their side back into the contest. The English batters added 67 runs to the cause in 14 overs, seeing their side to 134 before Knight was run out for 46.
Wilson kept England in the hunt, despite the untimely loss of partners at the other end. Off the penultimate ball of the 44th over, Wilson was run out for 81. After her departure, England needed to up the run-rate to score the 53 runs required for victory off six overs.
The lower order struggled to keep up with the rate while keeping wickets in hand. The England batting order committed the cardinal sin of not batting through their fifty overs. The last wicket fell in the 48th over, the hosts all out for 246.
Sri Lanka vs New Zealand
Elsewhere, New Zealand romped to a crushing nine-wicket victory over Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka batters struggled in the face of some fantastic Kiwi bowling. Holly Huddlestone’s figures of 5-35 was key in the dismantling of the Sri Lanka batting lineup, the islanders labouring to 188-9 in their innings.
The New Zealand batters made light work of the chase, thanks to a 170-run second-wicket stand between Suzie Bates (106) and Amy Satterthwaite (78) as New Zealand completed a comprehensive nine-wicket victory.
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