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Nat Sciver's patience rewarded as runs return at the right time

England vice-captain seeks to stay on a roll against an India side expected to fight back in second ODI

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
Nat Sciver pulls one away, England Women vs India Women, 1st ODI, Bristol, June 27, 2021

Nat Sciver pulls one away  •  PA Photos/Getty Images

After rediscovering some fine form with the bat, Nat Sciver is targeting more in Taunton, where she expects India to show some fight as England hunt an unassailable lead in the ODI leg of their multi-format series.
England lead the series by four points to two after drawing the Test and then winning the first of three ODIs resoundingly in Bristol on Sunday, when Sciver and Tammy Beaumont combined for an unbroken third-wicket stand worth 119.
Sciver had spoken in the lead-up to the Test, also in Bristol, of her hunger for more runs after scores of 7, 10 and 9* in the opening rounds of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and 2 for England against England A in a warm-up for the India series.
After contributing a valuable 42 in the Test, Sciver kicked on with 74 not out as England's batting depth was scarcely tested in an eight-wicket victory secured with 15.1 overs to spare.
Turning her attention to Taunton, where England can go 2-0 up in the three-match 50-over series on Wednesday, Sciver was hopeful that her latest knock is a sign of more to come.
"I'm really happy that I managed to put a partnership together with Tammy because in the games leading up to the series I'd been a bit frustrated in not being able to get a score," Sciver said. "We'd spoken about having a partnership over 100 and just making sure that we were clinical so I was very happy to be out there at the end with her and I felt like I was in a good spot to push on."
Beaumont has been in scintillating touch, her unbeaten 87 marking the fourth time in as many ODIs that she has passed fifty and coming after another half-century in the Test. Most encouraging for Sciver, the England vice-captain, was that her return to form required no changes to technique or mindset.
"I haven't done anything different, just being patient," Sciver added. "I was quite easily frustrated in the domestic games we had before the series, wanting to get a score just to feel good, but I was patient and just played my natural game, hit straight and made use of the bad ball.
"It felt good to be out there in the middle with Tammy in the other game so hopefully it can be more of the same."
But where patience proved to be a virtue for Sciver, it was India's undoing, their overall run rate of 4.02 ultimately taking them to a below-par 201 for 8 from their 50 overs, which included 181 dot balls. India posted 27 for 2 in the first powerplay and they took until the 32nd over to reach the 100 mark, captain Mithali Raj's 72 holding the innings together but coming off 108 deliveries.
Sciver expects to see a different approach from India in the day-night match in Taunton.
"If we were in that position, we'd want to certainly punch back a bit harder and make sure that we don't do the same things again," she said. "So we're expecting India to come out with a bit of fight tomorrow.
"But hopefully with our skill that we've got with the ball and ruthlessness with the bat we can put on a good performance again."
England, whose victory in the first ODI was set up by a strong all-round bowling display led by Sophie Ecclestone's 3 for 40, could be well-served targeting India's dangerous openers again.
Having removed destructive hitter Shafali Verma, making her ODI debut after twin half-centuries in her maiden Test the week before, and fellow Smriti Mandhana cheaply thanks to seamers Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole - who claimed two wickets each - the hosts were in a strong position to keep a lid on India's scoring and put pressure on the middle order.
"Their line-up is obviously very powerful at the top," Sciver said. "The importance of the first 10 from our bowlers was massive and Anya and Katherine showed their class and really put the pressure on, made it hard for them to score, and then they had to go for a big shot."

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo