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England look for improved fielding against India to keep World Cup dream alive

Defending champions in search of first win must overcome a rash of missed chances

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
Amy Jones takes a catch to dismiss Mignon du Preez, England vs South Africa, Women's World Cup 2022, Mount Maunganui, March 14, 2022

Amy Jones takes a catch to dismiss Mignon Du Preez  •  Getty Images

England will be looking for a vastly improved performance in the field against India to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
Another defeat would mean England have to rely on other, unlikely, results going their way to reach the semi-finals. They must also eradicate a rash of missed chances which cost them in a seven-run loss to West Indies and Monday's three-wicket defeat at the hands of South Africa.
England are yet to record a victory at this tournament so far, having also lost their opening match against Australia to sit seventh on the table, with Pakistan the only team below them.
Wicketkeeper Amy Jones, who returned to form with the bat to score a half-century against South Africa, acknowledged that a better showing in the field on Wednesday would be crucial - they missed five chances against West Indies and dropped three catches against South Africa with Jones missing a stumping off Laura Wolvaardt, who scored 77.
However, while the stakes are high and honest discussions had taken place in the England camp about those errors, Jones added that it was important to strike a balance between sharpening up and placing too much pressure on the fielders in the next match, which could have obvious adverse consequences.
"After the West Indies game, we dropped and missed a lot of chances, so we spoke about that as a group, obviously not wanting to put a huge amount of pressure on the first opportunity that comes in the next game," Jones said.
"We just spoke about how we wanted to be really positive, really supportive of each other out there and just do the little things right like attacking the ball, fizzing it in to me, getting just some good energy going and hoping that the chances will be taken from that. We know our skill level is good enough to take those chances.
"Then it was unfortunate that we missed a few again last night, but I think with the games coming so quick, you have to look individually if there's any quick learnings you can make but in terms the whole team, it's just so important that we keep supporting each other, we keep the energy high in the field. We do play our best and we're enjoying it, we're supporting each other, having a bit of a laugh, so I think that's the kind of mood we want to create when we go out there."
Jones' 53 against South Africa came during a century stand with Tammy Beaumont for the third wicket and was her first ODI fifty since she scored 60 against New Zealand last September. In five one-day innings in between, Jones' highest score was 28 against Australia in Melbourne during the Ashes last month and prior to that knock against the White Ferns, she had passed 30 just twice in 13 ODI innings.
"I've been quite short of runs recently so it was a bit of a relief to be honest," Jones said. "I didn't change a huge amount.
"I'd been struggling to rotate the strike early on in the first few games and then sort of putting a bit of unnecessary pressure on myself, so basically going into the last game, I was just trying to stay relaxed at the crease, still trust my timing and not try and force it if there were a few dots. It was great to get going into my innings and to have that partnership with Tam."
Jones said the fact they were playing their second match in a row at Mount Maunganui would benefit England, who would take "some learnings" from the South Africa game, although India have also played at the ground recently, defeating Pakistan by 107 there in their World Cup opener. Also informative would be the 2-1 ODI series victory over India on their multi-format tour during the English summer, which England won by 10 points to six.
"It definitely gives confidence," Jones said. "When you play any team, it's quite natural to look back at the last games that you played against them and so to have that fairly recent success against them I think as a group will definitely give us confidence."
India have dropped one of their three World Cup matches so far, losing by 62 runs to New Zealand, who also won their ODI series 4-1 immediately before the tournament.
Australia's seven-wicket win against West Indies overnight could help England's cause, pulling the Windies back to two wins and two losses from four games after they got off to a flying start, upsetting New Zealand and then beating England.
West Indies, New Zealand and India are all locked mid-table on four points, although victory for India on Wednesday would pull them clear of the other two. After India, England play New Zealand, whom they defeated 4-1 in ODIs at home late last year, followed by Pakistan and Bangladesh, ranked eighth and sixth on the ICC's ODI team rankings respectively, although - as seventh-ranked West Indies have already shown - danger can lurk in any opponent at this World Cup.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo