Anya Shrubsole credits fielders as England's World Cup campaign stirs at last

Sizeable win over India keeps fading qualification prospects alive

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
England hope a four-wicket victory against India finally sets their World Cup defence rolling after breaking the winless streak that had put their campaign in peril.
After close defeats to Australia, West Indies and South Africa - the latter two characterised by sub-par performances in the field - England held their catches and pulled off two excellent run-outs to cap India's total at just 134 inside 37 overs.
Their bowling efforts were led by 4 for 23 from Player of the Match Charlie Dean, the 21-year-old offspinner playing just her ninth ODI, and veteran seamer Anya Shrubsole, who set the tone with two early wickets. Heather Knight, their captain, carried the chase with an unbeaten 53 alongside Nat Sciver's 45 off 46 balls, seeing England home with 18.4 overs to spare.
Although another defeat would not have mathematically spelt the end of England's challenge, it would have left them reliant on some unlikely results elsewhere in their bid to reach the last four. However, the sizeable margin of victory, after three narrow defeats in their opening fixtures, could yet be a significant factor if they can win their remaining three games, starting with New Zealand on Saturday, given that some of their main rivals for qualification have yet to face each other.
"It's really pleasing to get a win on the board with a pretty good performance and hopefully this is the start of some wins," Shrubsole said of the victory, which broke a six-game losing streak going back to the ODI leg of the Ashes. "It's been a while since we've won, we can't make any secrets about that. It's been a tricky tour.
"It's really nice to get the win on the board, to play well, but this is one of four really that that we need to win. We'll obviously celebrate the win and then it's about getting to Auckland and turning our focus to the New Zealand game."
England face New Zealand - currently locked mid-table with India and West Indies - this weekend, followed by Pakistan and Bangladesh, who are both ranked below them. Each of those three main rivals still has to face South Africa, who along with the pace-setters Australia are the only unbeaten team in the table.
While England released the pressure valve on their World Cup with Wednesday's result at Mount Maunganui, perhaps most pleasing for them was that, before the game, they managed to ease the pressure on themselves.
After a rash of dropped catches and missed chances in the previous two games, nerves could easily have crept in for such a crucial game. On the contrary, England looked a different outfit in the field against India, and Shrubsole said Sophia Dunkley's diving catch at cover-point to remove captain Mithali Raj for just 1 was a key moment in putting their fielding woes behind them.
"It's something we've had conversations about throughout this tournament and we haven't quite been able to put a finger on exactly what it was," Shrubsole said. "I do think sometimes fielding, it just seems to be something that kind of spreads and if you drop the first catch in the game, lots of things seem to go from there.
"The catch that Dunks took pretty early on in the game really set us on our way and it's just about coming into each game trying to be really positive and take the positive option, and I think almost fake confidence until you kind of feel it, if that's what you need to do. That was much closer to what we're like as a fielding unit out there today.
"We're going to have to do all the same things before the next game and not take things for granted, but I think fielding can often be a confidence thing and that's much closer to where we're at as a team. We haven't shied away from the fact that we've been really poor in the field in the first three games, the last two in particular, and it's potentially cost us some wins. So it was really nice to put some of that right today and hopefully it's a step in the right direction for us moving forward."
Shrubsole dismissed Yastika Bhatia for her 100th ODI wicket, and Raj inside the first six overs before Dean took two in four balls, including the dangerous Harmanpreet Kaur and Sneh Rana for 14 and 0 respectively.
Dean, who only made her international debut during England's home series against New Zealand in September, had 3 for 14 from her first five overs after she trapped Pooja Vastrakar lbw for 6 and she wrapped up India's innings with the wicket of Meghna Singh for 3.
Ahead of the Ashes, Knight said Dean had been "a good find" and while she went wicketless in the two ODIs and one T20I that she played in Australia, Dean took 2 for 24 in Australia's second innings of the drawn Test.
"I thought as a group we bowled really well, obviously the way Charlie Dean bowled was amazing, Sophie Ecclestone was incredible again and we showed a bit more what we're about in the field," Shrubsole said.
"I'm absolutely buzzing for Charlie. It's her first World Cup, she is 21. To bowl as well as she did in what was a really high-pressure game, two wickets in her first over, just really backed up the early wickets that we'd taken. I'm over the moon for Deano. She's someone who's really popular amongst this group, is a seriously talented cricketer and hopefully is going to be taking wickets in World Cups for England for years to come."

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo