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India 232 for 3 (Mandhana 91, Harmanpreet 74*, Bhatia 50) beat England 227 for 7 (Davidson-Richards 50*, Wyatt 43, Deepti 2-33) by seven wickets
A solid and classy knock of 91 from vice-captain Smriti Mandhana powered India to victory after their bowlers restricted England to 227 for 7 in the first ODI in Hove. Nearly everything went right for India after they won the toss and chose to bowl on a slow pitch. They got early wickets. They kept things tight. And they were so ruthless they allowed only one partnership to cross fifty runs in the entire innings. If that wasn't enough of a clinic, when it was their turn to bat, three of the top four - Mandhana, Yastika Bhatia and Harmanpreet Kaur - hit half-centuries to seal the chase with 34 balls to spare.
India's bowling was a collective performance from the quicks and spinners that left England devoid of any kind of momentum in a stop-start innings and the conditions were such that low bounce accounted for two wickets. The hosts had slipped to 94 for 5 and then 128 for 6 and were staring at a much lower total until Danni Wyatt hit 43 and Alice Davidson-Richards made unbeaten 50 towards the end.
India had England's batters on a leash right from the start with the return of Jhulan Goswami after six months for her farewell series. Emma Lamb whipped Meghna for two fours through the leg side before she edged a bouncer behind off the same bowler in the eighth over. Nine balls later, Goswami's inswinger trapped Tammy Beaumont lbw for 7 off 21 with England having crawled to just 26 for 2 in 10 overs.
Sophia Dunkley, who scored heavily against India in the T20Is, and debutant Alice Capsey steered the hosts through a stable period but a spin squeeze from both ends ended the 43-run stand when Harmanpreet took a one-handed catch at short midwicket to send Capsey back. In what would become a pattern for the entire England innings, just when it looked like Wyatt and Dunkley were rebuilding steadily, Dunkley first handed a straightforward catch to cover off Harleen Deol and a ball that kept really low from Rajeshwari Gayakwad deflected off Amy Jones' back foot to hit the stumps, leaving England 94 for 5.
Wyatt and Davidson-Richards collected boundaries off loose deliveries from Meghna, Rana and Deol. Wyatt, however, fell to a soft dismissal too when she missed a sweep off Deepti to lose her stumps. England could have been six down in the same over had Deepti hung on to a low return chance from Ecclestone while diving to her right. Ecclestone and Davidson-Richards revived England from 128 for 6 with a much-needed fifty stand. Ecclestone scored briskly off the spinners with a few sweeps, including two for fours against Sneh Rana in an 11-run 40th over, while Davidson-Richards rotated the strike by coming down the pitch regularly. But another delivery kept low, this time from Deepti, to strike Ecclestone right in front on the back foot for 31 off 33.
Davidson-Richards made sure they survived 50 overs as Dean deftly opened the face of the bat late on the off side for her two fours and also got a life when Goswami spilled a low catch diving forward from short fine leg. Davidson-Richards then went after Deepti in the penultimate over and Meghna in the last to help them collect 45 runs in the last six overs.
India lost Shafali Verma for 1 but Bhatia and Mandhana's 96-run stand kept them ticking at over 5.50 an over. If Bhatia's innings saw several half chances and edges land safely, Mandhana's was replete with elegant cover drives that fetched her regular boundaries. She struck three of those in quick succession off Kate Cross and Issy Wong. India were 59 for 1 at the end of the powerplay, having hit 11 fours compared to England's three in the same period. Conditions looked much better for scoring during the chase and Bhatia cashed in, top-edging a six and clattering three more fours to bring up a 45-ball fifty. She fell immediately after though, when she came down the track and missed one from Dean.
Mandhana was confident as ever and along with Harmanpreet eased along with the asking rate around four an over. Harmanpreet took out her trademark sweeps and Mandhana crunched Dean back down the ground for her 24th half-century. England also tried a spin squeeze with Ecclestone, Dean and Lamb but it didn't work. With a comfortable 71 needed off 20 overs, Harmanpreet scooped Cross for a four and Mandhana smoked Wong over long-on for six to close in on her century, but a cross-batted swipe against Cross resulted in a top edge and Mandhana was caught at mid-on to fall nine short.
Only 30 runs left for victory from there, Harmanpreet brought up a patient 80-ball fifty before hitting the winning runs with a sweep for six.
Mandhana 91 and bowlers' discipline put India 1-0 up against England
The hosts were 94 for 5 and 128 for 6 before a late-order rally took them up towards a decent score but it wasn't enough