Mature Dunkley guides England to tense ODI win against Indiaon June 30, 2021 at 8:37 pm

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Sophia Dunkley’s unbeaten 73 helps England beat India by five wickets in the second ODI and take a 6-2 lead in the series.

India 221 (50 overs): Raj 59, Cross 5-34, Ecclestone 3-33
England 225-5 (47.3 overs): Dunkley 73*, Brunt 33*, Poonam 2-63
England (2pts) won by five wickets; lead multi-format series 6-2

Dunkley, arriving with England 133-5 in their chase of 222, played with great maturity in a 92-run stand with Katherine Brunt, who made 33, to help England home with 15 balls to spare.

England’s top order had earlier collapsed to 82-3, with the recalled Poonam Yadav taking 2-63.

India had set England 221 from their 50 overs, anchored by 59 from Mithali Raj and an aggressive 44 from Shafali Verma.

Kate Cross took 5-34 – her first ODI five-for since 2015 – to put England on top before a last-wicket stand of 27 between Jhulan Goswami and Poonam Yadav helped India to a tricky total.

India, led in the field by Harmanpreet Kaur after Mithali Raj injured her neck, were energised and tidier than they had been at any point in the series.

However Dunkley, in just her second ODI, showed a fine sense of timing and patience which eventually took the hosts to a tense victory.

Dunkley halts India charge

With England defending their World Cup title in eight months’ time, this was a good chance to explore their batting depth.

They were faced with an energised Indian fielding unit, with the tourists looking more relaxed, chasing down the ball and upping the noise as England struggled.

For the first time in the multi-format series, England’s top order did not fire.

Stand-out batter Tammy Beaumount was bowled by Jhulan Goswami, Heather Knight swiped Poonam to mid-off and Lauren Winfield-Hill was well caught by keeper Tanyia Bhatia.

Nat Sciver again looked fluent and after she was reprieved by the umpires when a low catch from Harmanpreet Kaur was adjudged to have hit the ground, it felt as though she could guide England home.

But Yadav, who stands at just five foot one, is one of the most difficult bowlers to hit. With her deliveries coming high and slow at the batters, it is almost impossible to hit a boundary off her.

England struggled to rotate the strike – something they excel at – and the loss of Sciver, caught behind for 19, left them low on experience.

However, Dunkley had impressed with her maturity during her Test debut, and did similar here. She played herself in and chose her moments to unleash, including a huge six into the stands at long-on.

Her maiden ODI half-century came from 62 balls, and she played the senior role in the partnership with 127-cap veteran Brunt.

Cross takes her chance

Once thought of as purely a Test match bowler, Cross has struggled to secure a place in an England ODI side that contains Brunt and Anya Shrubsole.

However, she bowled with great skill on a good batting deck, finding an accuracy and consistency that eluded the two senior bowlers.

India began strongly, racing to 56-0 inside the first 11 overs before Cross was introduced. She struck with her fifth delivery, Smriti Mandhana trying to cut the ball and instead edging it into her stumps.

Her wickets came as India tried to force the rate. Both Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet were caught after spooning the ball up in the air – Harmanpreet was well held by Cross in her follow-through, before Deepti Sharma crashed a delivery to Dunkley at deep mid-wicket.

Cross was surrounded by her team-mates in celebration as Sneh Rana was caught at extra cover despite a juggle from Heather Knight for the bowler’s fifth wicket.

“I nearly cried. It will mean the absolute world to her,” Alex Hartley, Test Match Special commentator and host of the No Balls podcast with Cross, said.

“She has always been in and out of this ODI side and has had to find a way to adapt.

“I am so, so happy for her.”

India’s innings followed a similar template to the first match, Raj again anchoring the innings at a steady rate before she fell to a superb, off-balance run-out by keeper Amy Jones.

They managed to bat out their 50 overs – an improvement on Bristol – and were particularly aggressive against Brunt, who conceded 55 from her 10 overs, to post a total that was very nearly enough.

‘Dunkley is the real deal’ – what they said

England captain Heather Knight: “The pleasing thing as a team is that we were tested today, and I think that is really good for our development as a side.

“It was a good game of cricket and we managed to keep our composure, and that partnership was outstanding.”

England World Cup winner Alex Hartley on TMS: “Sophia Dunkley is the real deal. She looks at home in international cricket. She got 70-odd on both Test debut and ODI batting debut.”

India stand-in captain Harmanpreet Kaur: “I believe our bowlers did a really good job. It wasn’t a good total for them to defend but I’m so proud of how we bowled and fielded.

“We felt that 221 wasn’t a winning total, we need to start getting scores of more than 250 but we know our bowlers can win games for us. But we fought well, even though it was a below-par score.

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