England Women 225 for 5 (Dunkley 73, Winfield-Hill 42, Brunt 33*, Poonam 2-63) beat India Women 221 (Raj 59, Verma 44, Cross 5-34, Ecclestone 3-33) by five wickets
Kate Cross's second career five-for and a second successive three-for from Sophie Ecclestone, followed by a sixth-wicket unbeaten 92 stand between half-centurion Sophia Dunkley and Katherine Brunt set up England's five-wicket win in the second ODI as Mithali Raj's second fifty in as many games was in vain.
India scored 71 off their last 15 overs to set England 222; the hosts needed 65 off theirs to clinch a second straight win and bolster their lead to 6-2 in the seven-match multi-format series. By then, Dunkley, batting for the first time in ODIs having made her debut in the format on Sunday, had put on 24 with Brunt. It took the duo less than 13 of those 15 overs to overhaul the target as Dunkley finished on 73 not out and Brunt on an unbeaten 33.
Exuding the nerveless, clear-headed approach that underpinned her 74 not out on Test debut earlier this month, Dunkley steadied England's chase after the home team lost half their side with 79 still needed. Her release shot - an imperious six into the long-on stands off pacer Shikha Pandey in the 34th over - put England in the driver's seat after intermittent strikes had denied England's top five any fifty partnerships.
A maiden from Pandey in the first half of the Powerplay set the tone for India's defence, under stand-in captain Harmanpreet Kaur as Raj didn't field owing to neck pain. Jhulan Goswami drew first blood with a jaffa in the fifth over. Landing one on a good length, Goswami had it seam away slightly after pitching on middle, when, as replays suggested, the original line had been heading down leg. The misreading of the line caused the in-form Beaumont to be bowled for just 10.
Beaumont's opening partner, Lauren Winfield-Hill, showed early promise with a bouquet of cracking drives through the covers and over the bowler's head. She hit four fours and a six en route to her 42 but fell to a feather of an edge in Pandey's second spell thanks to brilliant Taniya Bhatia, standing up, with the gloves.
Pandey could have had a second wicket a ball later. Kaur claimed a low catch diving forward to a Sciver lofted drive to mid-off, and was adamant her fingers were under the ball as she did so. The on-field soft signal, however, was not out, and was duly upheld, much to her displeasure, when the zoomed-in TV replays proved inconclusive.
It could have proven to be a pivotal flashpoint. Instead, on 92 for 3, with Sciver having added another six runs since the close shave, offspinner Rana caused her to edge to Bhatia for the second of the wicketkeeper's superb takes. Poonam picked up Amy Jones in the 29th over, keeping India's chances alive, until Brunt and Dunkley staged a meticulous rebuild.
As with their bowling performance, with the bat, India showed better intent than the first ODI. Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma's fifty opening stand came up in the 11th over, but in the next over, the introduction of England's third pacer, Cross, led to the first breakthrough, with Mandhana chopping on a good-length, scrambled-seam delivery that nipped away from the bat.
England had turned to spin as early as the ninth over, with Ecclestone bowling six overs for 20 runs and picking up the wicket of Verma in her first spell. Badly dropped on 21 by Winfield-Hill at mid-off, and parched of runs in the first three balls of the 17th over, Verma, six shy of a maiden ODI fifty, trotted down the pitch but was stumped adeptly by Jones as Ecclestone dragged her length back.
No. 3 Jemimah Rodgriues, replacing Punam Raut as one of three changes to India's XI, struck two emphatic fours in Ecclestone's fifth over. That's all she could score in her 15-ball stay before coming down the wicket to Cross, and offering up a leading edge for Brunt to complete an easy take.
After India slipped from 56 for 0 to 77 for 3 in the space of 29 balls, Raj and her deputy, Kaur, strung a fourth-wicket stand of 68 runs, their third fifty-plus stand in their last four ODI innings together, to lift India to 145 for 4 by the 34th over. Their stand ended with Cross eliciting a cavalier hoick off Kaur that ended up in a benign top edge for the bowler herself to gobble up.
The next-best partnership was worth just 15, between Raj and Deepti Sharma, whose flick found Dunkley in the deep, as Cross made giant strides on her merry march to the Player-of-the-Match honours. Sharma's wicket capped off Cross's four-for, the first by an England bowler in a home ODI since Anya Shrubsole's epochal five-for in the 2017 World Cup final at Lord's.
Cross sealed her five-for with the wicket of Sneh Rana, who made the XI at the expense of Pooja Vastrakar. Drawing a leading edge similar to Rodrigues', Rana was held at the second attempt by a relieved Heather Knight, as England celebrated with a group hug to mark a fine performance from a popular player.
Ecclestone followed up her 3 for 40 in the first game with 3 for 33 in the second, Bhatia her second scalp at Taunton. In Shikha Pandey, Sciver picked up her 50th ODI wicket.
Raj found support towards the end of the innings from No. 10 Goswami, who pulled Brunt twice with aplomb in her unbeaten run-a-ball 19. Regular dismissals at the other end meant Raj dropped the scoring pace somewhat as she neared her fifty, a highlights-worthy compilation of back-foot punches, cuts, trademark cover drives, and a failed attempt at pulling a superb Cross bouncer in the 36th over.
On 48, Raj copped a bouncer from Cross on the front of her grille, but quickly shook it off to bring up a half-century, her 57th in the format. However, she was run out nine runs later, after a terrific recovery from Dunkley on the deep square boundary. After recovering from a misfield, her bullet throw was well gathered in front of the stumps by Jones, who whipped off the bails to claim the key scalp among her day's four dismissals.
A 29-run tenth-wicket stand between Goswami and Poonam Yadav, who was picked over Ekta Bisht as the second frontline spin-bowling option, dragged India past 200. Ecclestone bowled Yadav for a 15-ball 10 off the final delivery of the innings. And though India bettered their 201 tally in the first post 221 in the second, it again proved insufficient to get the better of England.
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha