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ICC Women's World Cup: Mandhana and Raj inspire India to win over host England

India vs England Womens WCSmriti Mandhana’s aggressive shot-making set the tone, while Mithali Raj broke an all-time record, as India deservedly beat host England in its ICC Women’s World Cup opener in Derby.

India was put in to bat after losing the toss at The County Ground but looked impressive from the start as Mandhana, Raj and Poonam Raut did most of the damage in a total of 281 for three from 50 overs.

Contrastingly, England’s opening pair of Tammy Beaumont and Sarah Taylor fell relatively cheaply, before four run-outs kept the pressure on to lead the visitor to a 35-run triumph.

India opener Mandhana was playing in her first ICC Women’s World Cup match but the 20-year-old showed no sign of nerves, as she compiled a fluent 90 from just 72 balls.

A quartet of her 11 fours came off a single Katherine Brunt over – three of which were driven through point from consecutive balls – while a pair of sixes were also launched over deep mid-wicket.

With her opening partner on the offensive, Raut could afford to play in a more circumspect manner but did make the most of being dropped on three occasions to reach 86 before being caught by Danielle Wyatt off the bowling of Danielle Hazell.

Mandhana’s dismissal had brought Raj to the crease, and the India skipper ensured it was a day to remember as she made her 47th career ODI half-century, surpassing the all-time record of former England batter Charlotte Edwards, by notching 71.

England needed its record successful ODI run chase to snatch a memorable victory but fell to 67 for three as Beaumont, Taylor and Natalie Sciver all holed out.

The run-rate continued to climb as the India attack turned the screw and despite Fran Wilson’s maiden ODI half-century, a valiant 81 from 75 balls, wickets continued to fall at the other end and India bowled England out for 246 with 2.3 overs left.

India's Smriti Mandhana said: "It was really important to give the team a good start. I started well and that gave me confidence and kept me going. That was our plan – to get off to a good start.

"I enjoyed batting with Poonam Raut a lot. We were both facing in-swingers but we had a very good partnership and we should continue that for the rest of the World Cup.

“I think I gave my wicket away at the wrong time, and next time I will try not to do that – I will try to bat for the 50 overs.

“I can’t compare my 100 against Australia to this but this is a World Cup, so it is a special one.

“The last four and a half or five months have been hard for me with the knee injury I picked up but if we do well in the World Cup, it will pay off.”

Meanwhile in Bristol, 2000 champion New Zealand eased to a comfortable nine-wicket victory over Sri Lanka to open up its bid for the ICC Women’s World Cup title in fine style.

Chamari Polgampala (49) and Chamari Athapaththu (53) gave Inoka Ranaweera’s side an ideal foundation to kick on at 141 for one with 15 overs remaining, but once the latter fell a flurry of wickets followed.

Sophie Devine forced the crucial breakthrough that turned the innings, as her slower ball was spooned by Athapaththu to skipper Suzie Bates at extra cover.

Polgampala was next to go despite bringing up her 1000th career ODI run shortly before, as Sri Lanka stuttered and lost five wickets for just 15 runs.

Holly Huddleston produced a stunning second spell for the White Fearns to finish with figures of five for 35 to restrict Sri Lanka to just 188 for nine from its 50 overs.

And despite losing opener Rachel Priest early on as she was trapped in front by Chandima Gunaratne, New Zealand’s experienced pairing of Bates and Amy Satterthwaite delivered the goods.

Bates brought up a magnificent century off 107 balls, eventually finishing on 106 not out as she and Satterthwaite (78 not out) stayed well ahead of the rate to see New Zealand home with 12.2 overs to spare.

Huddleston said: “It’s a dream come true for me of course; to get five in my first World Cup game is really special.
“To begin with I bowled a little too much two lines and two lengths, but I managed to bring it back quite nicely through the middle there.

“We went out to bat with the idea to keep playing our brand of cricket. It's really important to get off with a win and take the two points away from today's game, and now hopefully we can start building some momentum."