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Sophia Dunkley does it again with assured maiden ODI innings

After long wait for a go, batter follows up Test success with match-winning hand at Taunton

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
Sophia Dunkley cuts during her unbeaten half-century, England vs India, 2nd Women's ODI, Taunton, June 30, 2021

Sophia Dunkley cuts during her unbeaten half-century  •  PA Photos/Getty Images

Having waited a long time for a chance to cement a place in England's batting line-up, Sophia Dunkley's successful rescue mission against India on Wednesday in her maiden ODI innings bodes well for the future.
With England stumbling to 92 for 4 in pursuit of what had appeared a comfortable target of 222 in Taunton to win the second ODI and take a 6-2 lead in the multi-format series, Dunkley's 73 not out hauled England out of trouble and her unbroken stand of 92 with Katherine Brunt for the sixth wicket saw them to victory.
Dunkley put on a semi-steadying partnership of 41 for the fifth-wicket with Amy Jones and, once Jones departed, Dunkley and Brunt guided England to safety.
Let off on 23 with England 144 for 5 when her slash through point off Jhulan Goswami sailed through the hands of a leaping substitute fielder, Radha Yadav, Dunkley kept a cool head, rotating the strike and exuding confidence.
She reached her fifty off 62 balls, including four fours and a commanding six off Shikha Pandey over long-on. She picked another four off Goswami, smacked through midwicket, and watched as Brunt struck the winning runs, a four off Deepti Sharma midway through the 48th over.
Kate Cross, whose five-wicket haul had contained India to what looked like a below-par total of 221 from exactly 50 overs, said their partnership was a joy to watch.
"I was a bit nervous when we still needed 120-odd to win, however I thought it was amazing to see the likes of Sophia Dunkley and Brunty - a girl who's not batted in ODI cricket, and a girl who's batted a lot in ODI cricket - put us over the line," Cross said.
"I thought it was an incredible partnership and it just looked so calm. When they're calm, I'm not nervous anymore so it was good.
"There were a few nerves around, I think the girls that were padded up were a bit nervous to go in, but I think it was just good to show the depth that we've got in the batting line-up and that we're not just reliant on our top four to be scoring the runs all the time."
It is four months since Dunkley spoke during the tour of New Zealand of her desire to make an England team place her own. Having played 10 T20Is during 2018-19, including five T20 World Cup matches, she spent the next 18 months on the sidelines of selection.
Recalled for last summer's five-match T20I series against West Indies, she was unable to make an impression in her two innings. Overlooked for the ODI leg of the New Zealand tour in February and March, she played all three T20Is, but was only required at the crease twice for scores of 0 not out and 26.
A century and a 92 across the first three rounds of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy saw her called into England's squads for the Test and ODI legs against India, complete with an England central contract for this year.
She scored an unbeaten 74 when she became the first black woman to play Test cricket for England in the drawn Test which kicked off the series. Then, after not being required to bat in the first ODI in Bristol, she produced a stellar performance when her side needed it most in Taunton after Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight and Nat Sciver all fell cheaply.
Opener Lauren Winfield-Hill, the last debutant to pass 100 career runs in either ODI or T20I cricket for England, scored 42 but it was the record stand between Dunkley and Brunt that secured victory for the home side.
Dunkley had worked hard in the field too, her wonderful athleticism called upon time and again, the ball seeming to find her in the deep with uncanny regularity during the India innings.
She took a catch at deep midwicket to give Cross her fourth scalp, that of Sharma for 5, and ran out Mithali Raj, the India captain, for 59 with a throw from deep square-leg. It might be a job to shift her from the side if she can keep those performances up.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo