Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight shine as England go 1-0 up

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England women 160 for 4 (Beaumont 62, Knight 40, Wyatt 35, Radha 2-33) beat India women 119 for 6 (Pandey 23*, Brunt 2-21, Smith 2-22) by 41 runs
Strong hands from Tammy Beaumont, Danielle Wyatt and, especially, Heather Knight with the bat set up a comprehensive 41-run win for England in the first of their three T20Is against India in Guwahati on Monday.
Asked to bat, England blazed off the blocks with an 89-run first-wicket stand between Beaumont, who went on to hit a half-century, and Wyatt, before Knight hammered a 20-ball 40 later in the innings to put the game well beyond India.
Chasing 161 to go 1-0 up after they had won the preceding ODI series 2-1 in Mumbai, India went off the rails from the get-go. Katherine Brunt sent back debutant Harleen Deol first, and left-arm spinner Linsey Smith then put India firmly on the back foot by dismissing Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues, the big guns, off consecutive balls. And, just like that, India were in a big hole at 23 for 3 inside three-and-a-half overs.
Mithali Raj didn’t last long either, and when Veda Krishnamurthy was sent back by Anya Shrubsole for 15 at the halfway mark, the scoreboard read a sorry 46 for 5.
From there, all India could hope for was to keep the margin of defeat to a minimum, and the lower middle-order of Deepti Sharma (22 not out), Arundhati Reddy (18) and Shikha Pandey (23 not out) did well on that front. They ensured India survived their 20 overs, with Deepti and Pandey adding 43 runs for the last wicket, but that didn’t change the fact that England were the better team by far, on all counts, on the day.
In the first half, Wyatt was the early aggressor after three quiet overs as she sent Deepti to the boundary thrice in the fourth over of the innings. There might have been a fourth had it not been for Poonam Yadav’s dive at short fine-leg.
Beaumont joined in the fun soon, and by the end of the Powerplay, England were at 45 and coasting. The spread of the field didn’t change the script much either, as Mandhana, captaining India in Harmanpreet Kaur’s absence, looked short of ideas, changing the field after every other ball.
There was at least one four in every over as Beaumont picked up speed and outscored Wyatt, till India got a lucky break when Wyatt made room for herself and slapped a delivery from Pandey straight to Mandhana in the covers.
One wicket brought another as Radha Yadav, who had been expensive till then, got Natalie Sciver to hole out at square-leg, and that brought the scoring rate down a bit.
At 124 for 2 with three overs to go, India had a chance of keeping England to under 150, but Knight chose the 18th over to change the tempo of the game altogether, hitting Reddy for five successive fours after Beaumont had turned the strike over first ball. It was poor bowling, but Knight was superb, sweeping the first, going over cover in the next two, and then smashing one through the covers and hammering the last past long-on.
Two more fours came from the England captain’s bat in the next over too, off Deepti, before the bowler finally found joy off the last ball, getting Knight caught at long-on.
Beaumont had quietly gone past her half-century by then and, going for a big one in the last over, was stumped off Radha. Her 57-ball 62 was an excellent effort, exactly what England needed to hold the innings together as Knight went hammer and tongs at the other end.
The second game will be played on Thursday.