England Women survive spin scare to chase 91
England Women 92 for 8 (Beaumont 20, Bisht 4-21, Kaur 2-22 ) beat India Women 90 for 8 (Kaur 26, Knight 3-15, Shrubsole 2-12) by two wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
India Women nearly got out of jail courtesy their trump card, spin, in conditions as subcontinental as it could get to lift the hopes of a boisterous home crowd, but a turbo-charged start from Sarah Taylor and Tammy Beaumont helped England Women overcome a nervous breakdown. They eventually crossed the line by two wickets in a pulsating finish in Dharamsala.
India's 90 for 8, which seemed inadequate at the halfway mark, was made to look bigger as England's pre-determined approach on a surface, where the ball spun visiously, came back to bite them. It needed the calm of Natalie Sciver, who made a crucial 19, and Jenny Gunn to allay fears of a shock loss as England squeezed home with six balls to spare.
Ekta Bisht, who replaced Poonam Yadav in the XI, injected fresh life in to India's defence with a crafty display of left-arm spin bowling to finish with career-best figures of 4 for 21. But, lack of application with the bat threw India's campaign in choppy waters. They need to win against West Indies on Sunday and hope other results go their way.
After misfiring with the bat, India came out attacking, and received an early fillip when Charlotte Edwards was dismissed by the third over. But Taylor, perhaps identifying the surface to be a raging turner, announced herself with three fours off her first seven balls to briefly throw India's plans off.
Beaumont also showed she was up for the fight by making a sprightly 20. Harmanpreet Kaur, who was smashed for three fours off her first three balls, hit back with two wickets off successive balls. Beaumont holed out to midwicket before Taylor was stumped superbly by Sushma Verma.
From 42 for 3, England's nervy approach was reduced to a battle of push and prod as Bisht exploited the slow, spinning surface to scythe through the middle order. Heather Knight, who had earlier picked up three wickets with her offspin, was stumped, too, while Lydia Greenway was trapped plumb in front attempting an expansive sweep to leave the game on a knife's edge.
India's fielders also lifted themselves, even though England found scoring slightly easier against the pace of Jhulan Goswami. England also had a reprieve when Katherin Brunt survived a close lbw shout, with England needing 11 off 23. Then as things got tighter, the nerves began to show as Kaur put down a regulation catch at cover with England needing three. The next ball was hit behind point for four by Anya Shrubsole to trigger wild celebrations in the England camp.
Earlier, there was little doubt that the toss would be crucial, and Edwards opted to bowl. The decision paid off almost immediately as Vellaswamy Vanitha fell in the first over to leave two of India's best batsmen - Mithali Raj and Smriti Mandhana - to weather the early storm.
Mandhana started off with a crunching off drive, but the slowness of the wicket became evident early on as she repeatedly found leading edges off cutters. England were surprisingly off the boil on the field, but the hole India dug themselves in to allowed England to regroup.
Shikha Pandey, and not Kaur, walked out at No. 4 in a bid to up the ante. But Pandey struggled, which put more pressure on Raj. A touch player, who relies on timing instead of muscle, she then looked to go over the top, only to see the ball lob to point. The batting meltdown somewhat seemed complete when Veda Krishnamurthy was bowled through the gate by Knight's loopy offspin to leave India on the ropes at 52 for 5 in 14 overs. That they finished with 90 was courtesy Kaur's improvisation and Anuja Patil's deft touches.
A second successive sub-100 score put immense pressure on India's spinners to pull off a heist. Hard as they tried, all England needed was an injection of momentum at the top. Once they got that, it was a question of weathering the blips, which they overcame, but not without jangling nerves.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo