ODI newcomer Sophia Dunkley helps England to narrow win over India

England clawed their way to a five‑wicket win in the second ODI at Taunton with 15 balls to spare, coming out on top in a close contest against India thanks to an unbeaten 73 from Sophia Dunkley, who played with a confidence which belied the fact that her debut in the format had come just three days previously.

Earlier, the seamer Kate Cross had claimed figures of five for 34 – the best by any England bowler on home soil since Anya Shrubsole’s six for 46 in the 2017 World Cup final at Lord’s – to help bowl India out for 221 in their 50 overs. The win means England have won the ODI leg of the multiformat series 2-0, while they take a 6-2 lead in the series overall.

England had been reduced to 92 for four inside the first 22 overs of their chase, thanks to the efforts of the wicketkeeper Taniya Bhatia, who snaffled two catches, as well as trapping Tammy Beaumont in her crease by standing up to the stumps. Beaumont was eventually bowled by a stunning ball from Jhulan Goswami that swung away from the right-hander to take out her off-stump.

India seemed reinvigorated in the field despite the absence of their captain, Mithali Raj, who was unable to take the field during England’s chase due to neck pain sustained after being hit on the helmet during her innings.

But Dunkley’s calm confidence at the crease, rotating the strike with partners Amy Jones (28) and Katherine Brunt (33 not out), turned the match in England’s favour. She brought up her maiden ODI half‑century in just 63 balls with some swagger, sending a ball from Shikha Pandey flying through backward point for four, and remained unbeaten at the crease to enjoy the sight of Brunt hitting the winning runs in the 48th over.

Dunkley’s clear head had proved critical in the field, too, safely holding a catch at deep midwicket to hand Cross her fourth wicket of the day, as well as running out Mithali by a metre, throwing in from deep square leg. That dismissal came after India’s captain had brought up her second consecutive half-century, which – together with 44 from 55 balls from 17-year-old Shafali Verma – formed the mainstay of the Indian batting, after England chose to bowl first.

India had responded to their pasting at the hands of England in the first ODI on Sunday with a change in both personnel and mindset, bringing in Jemimah Rodrigues to bat at three and scoring at nearly five an over in the powerplay, reaching 48 without loss after 10 overs.

Katherine Brunt was left fuming after Verma looked to have got the better of the England attack, with the 17-year-old once again proving audaciously entertaining. She whipped out a lofted drive against Anya Shrubsole before paddling Cross over short fine leg, while Brunt had to endure a missed chance off her own bowling – Lauren Winfield-Hill shelling a catch at mid-off when Verma was on 21.

A tired-looking Brunt then conceded 18 runs off the penultimate over of the Indian innings, with a run-a-ball 19 not out from Goswami helping India push their total above the 200 mark.

Between times, two crucial spells from Cross had dented India’s hopes. First introduced in the 12th, it took her just five balls to strike, inducing an inside edge from Smriti Mandhana (22) on to her own stumps. Four overs later, she had Rodrigues caught at mid-on attempting the pull.

By the time she returned in the 34th, Mithali and Harmanpreet Kaur (19) had added 63 runs for the fourth wicket. But Cross made the crucial breakthrough, unsettling Harmanpreet, who played wildly across the line and sent up a top edge which was safely snaffled by Cross. Eventually, Sneh Rana skied a catch to Heather Knight at mid off to hand Cross her fifth – Knight juggled it, but to the delight of Cross, she hung on.

Cross, who last claimed a five-wicket haul in New Zealand in February 2015 and has never before done so on home soil, was forced to sit out last summer’s T20 series against West Indies despite being part of England’s biosecure bubble, but finally claimed her moment in the spotlight in front of a joyous crowd in Somerset.

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