India v England, Women's Quadrangular, Chennai February 28, 2007

India canter to eight-wicket win

The Bulletin by Nishi Narayanan

India 144 for 2 in 38.5 overs (J Sharma 66, Jain 51) beat England 143 (Greenway 50, A Sharma 4-16, Dimri 2-26)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

India eased to an eight-wicket victory against a lacklustre England in their Quadrangular tournament match at Chepauk on Wednesday, picking up a bonus point and jumping to the top spot in the points table. England, who lost their fourth consecutive game, are now out of contention for a place in the final.

The match was effectively decided in the first half as England never recovered from losing early wickets - Amita Sharma, the medium-pacer, took four wickets - and could only manage 143. Lydia Greenway's composed 50 and her partnership with Lynsey Askew for the eighth wicket sparing England the embarrassment of folding for less than 100.

Jaya Sharma and Karuna Jain, India's openers, then put on 126, their second century partnership of the tournament, before Mithali Raj and Thirush Kamini finished things off with a little more than 10 overs to spare.

The first breakthrough in England's innings came from Jhulan Goswami, who picked up Sarah Taylor's wicket for 14. Then Amita, helped by some poor shot selection by the England batsmen, got into the act.

Her first wicket, Claire Taylor trapped leg before for 9, looked doubtful as the ball seemed to be traveling down the legside. However, it triggered a mini-collapse, two more wickets falling without any change in the score. Charlotte Edwards was caught behind for a duck when she poked at a ball pitched outside off stump and moving away. Two overs later Rumeli Dhar beat Laura Newton with one that swung in and, the next ball, induced an edge to the 'keeper.

Amita struck again with the last ball of her sixth over trapping Jenny Gunn in front of the off stump and, soon after, she got Beth Morgan to top-edge a catch to Sunetra Paranjpe at gully while trying to play a shot to leg.

Bowling unchanged, Amita maintained a disciplined length to return figures of 10-3-16-4. Once she came off, though, and the spinners came on, Greenway and Askew loosened India's stranglehold over the run-rate and took England from 67 for 7 to 103 for 8.

Askew, playing her first ODI, looked in better touch than many of her seniors and hit a six and two fours in scoring 24 off 38 balls. Greenway added 36 with her and then 34 more with Laura Marsh as all three went on the offensive against the spinners. Rajeshwari Goel, a right-arm offbreak bowler playing her fourth game, went for 14 runs in the only over she got to bowl.

But England's score was never going to be enough on Chepauk's flat batting wicket, and against India's in-form openers - especially Sharma, who is averaging 85 with a hundred and two half-centuries from four games. Sharma and Jain went after the attack by slogging over midwicket, driving down the ground and timing shots behind the wicket.

Their target, to get the bonus point, was to win inside 40 overs and they took advantage of mishits and edges. Sharma could have been stumped early in her innings but the ball flew towards fine leg after it hit the edge of her bat. She was finally dismissed, caught and bowled, by Newton, the right-arm medium bowler, for 66. Jain departed in the next over after being caught by Gunn off Isa Guha for 51 but Raj and Kamini ensured the bonus-point target was met.

India now have 13 points and, with New Zealand losing to Australia by 49 runs in the concurrent game at the IIT Chemplast ground, lead the points table. Australia, who also gained a bonus point, have 10 points. They are favourites to make the final on March 5 but meet each other before that, in their second-leg group match on Saturday..