Nat Sciver smashes 27-ball 55 in England's 18-run DLS win over India
Amy Jones joined Sciver in a 78-run partnership off 42 balls after fifty stand between Wyatt and Beaumont
England Women 177 for 7 (Sciver 55, Jones 43, Pandey 3-22) beat India Women 54 for 3 (Mandhana 29, Deol 17*, Glenn 1-6) by 18 runs (DLS method)
Nat Sciver and Amy Jones's 42-ball stand of 78 headlined England's 18-run victory in the rain-curtailed first T20I against India in Northampton.
Player of the Match Sciver top-scored with a 27-ball 55 and took 1 for 16 later as India's batting proved no match in the face of a target four more than their highest successful T20I run-chase to date.
The loss of their three premier big-hitters - Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, and Harmanpreet Kaur - for just 47 runs had India playing catch-up as early as the seventh over of their innings. The onset of a rain interruption not long after further pegged them back in their pursuit of two series-levelling points as DLS calculations found them 18 runs behind the par score of 72 for 3 at 8.4 overs.
The win on Friday lifted England to eight points against India's four, with a combined four points remaining to be fought for in the last two T20Is of the seven-match multi-format series.
Sciver hits top gear from get-go
While England's openers got off to a scratchy start, No. 3 Sciver came out firing from ball one. In a scintillating display of power and precision, coupled with superb use of the depth of the crease, Sciver raced to the joint-fastest fifty by an English woman, reaching the milestone in just 24 balls.
She carted India's four-pronged spin attack for 36 off a combined 20 balls, having got off the mark with a powerful drive through the covers against left-arm spinner Radha Yadav the first ball she faced. She then tonked her for an inside-out six and pulled Poonam Yadav with ease at the slightest drop in length, hammering nine boundaries in all. Sciver was most belligerent against offspinner Sneh Rana and pacer Arundhati Reddy, carting them for 12 and 16 respectively, in the 13th and 16th overs.
Jones joins in the fun
That England's third team fifty came off just 23 balls was down to the onslaught unleashed by Sciver in the company of Jones. Bettering her scores of 17, 28, and 1 from her three innings across the longer formats earlier on the tour, Jones' 27-ball 43 at No. 5 proved the perfect support act to Sciver's knock.
Having come in after captain Heather Knight was run out for 6, with England on 85 for 3 in the 12th over, Jones started cautiously, making five off eight. She then unfurled an array of reverse-laps, pulls, and glorious inside-out lofted drives, hammering Radha for three fours in the 15th over and Deepti Sharma for 13 in the 17th, sending India's field settings into disarray.
England step on the gas after sedate start
After losing the toss, the hosts scored at a-run-a-ball in the first three overs but remained boundary-less. India's fielders sat on the edge of the in-field circle, however, facilitating unchallenged running between the wickets by Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont. A Beaumont hoick for four towards midwicket in the fourth over put the first boundary on England's tally. Wyatt flicked one towards backward square-leg off Shikha Pandey in the next over to bring up her first boundary of the day.
Earlier, India failed to capitalise on their first opportunity for a wicket, in the second over, when Wyatt reached for a wide Reddy delivery but ended up slicing it up towards the third-man boundary. Radha Yadav (backward point), Richa Ghosh (wicketkeeper), and Pandey, running in from third man, converged but none could get to the ball.
Offspinner Sharma conceded 11 runs in her first over, including two fours to Wyatt. England went from 19 after three overs to 48 for 0 at the end of the powerplay. Radha broke the stand soon after with a length ball outside off that enticed Wyatt into a reverse-sweep only for her to offer an edge to Ghosh. Originally given not out, it was down to a loud appeal from Ghosh, and her insistence, that India opted for the DRS; UltraEdge showed a spike, meaning Wyatt had to depart for 31.
Harrys in the house, your jaw is on the floor
They share a moniker (Harry) in the dressing room and, on Friday, Harmanpreet Kaur and Harleen Deol had catching honours to split between them. Just as Sciver looked to find another gear after bringing up her fifty, Kaur cut short her stay with a stunning forward-diving catch at long-on barely inches off the ground.
Two balls later, in the same over - the 19th one of the innings - delivered by Pandey, who was into her second spell having gone wicketless earlier, Jones, seven shy of a fifty, threw her hands at a length ball outside off. It rocketed towards wide long-off, where Deol hung by the rope to catch it overhead, flung the ball in the air and then herself onto the other side of the rope with the momentum, before jumping back on to complete a stunning catch.
Soon after, on a day she effected four dismissals, Ghosh, still in the infancy of her keeping career for the national side, gave Pandey a third wicket the next ball with a deft stumping that removed an off-balance Sophia Dunkley for 1. The three dismissals in the over capped a brilliant outing for India's fielders but there were no further reasons for the visitors to rejoice. Early in the chase, Katherine Brunt had Shafali Verma bowled for a duck and Sarah Glenn took out Kaur for 1 after Sciver accounted for Mandhana to leave India on the back foot.
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha