England 134 for 1 (Dunkley 61*) beat India 132 for 7 (Deepti 29*, Glenn 4-23) by nine wickets
Dunkley received a number of lives but became increasingly fluent to record her second fifty and highest score in the format, sharing in stands of 60 and 74 alongside Danni Wyatt and Alice Capsey as England reeled in a target that had the potential to be challenging with a full seven overs to spare. Having knocked England out of the Commonwealth Games on their own patch a month ago, India succumbed to a nine-wicket defeat.
Amy Jones, standing in for Heather Knight in the absence of Nat Sciver, who withdrew from the series to focus on her mental health, inserted India after a delayed toss, with the start pushed back by half an hour after heavy rain earlier in the day. As in the men’s Test, there was a guard of honour and a minute’s silence before play, in tribute to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
Dunkley’s streaky start
England’s opening pair had knocked off almost half the runs by the time they were separated in the seventh over – but Dunkley might have been dismissed on at least three occasions during the powerplay. She was caught behind from her third ball, only for the third umpire to deem that Renuka Singh had overstepped, and then saw Shafali Verma put down a straightforward catch at mid-off on 15 – Renuka again the unlucky bowler.
In between, there were a number of thick edges and miscues, and one wild heave at Renuka that saw the ball miss leg stump and beat the keeper for four byes. Wyatt might have gone, too, when Dunkley’s call for a quick single to mid-off nearly resulted in both batters being at the same end. The first ball after the powerplay, Dunkley got away with driving a catchable chance back past the bowler, Sneh Rana, but India finally broke the stand when Richa Ghosh pulled off a fantastic leg-side stumping to remove Wyatt.
Dunkley made good on her fortune, increasing England’s tempo in the company of Capsey, who once again looked completely at home in only her eighth T20I appearance, twice hitting clean sixes down the ground to finish unbeaten on 32 off 20.
As well as keeping Dunkley at the crease, India’s sloppiness in the field made life increasingly easy for England in their chase. Conditions were tricky underfoot, as emphasised by the sight of Radha Yadav having to be helped off the pitch after hurting her shoulder while making a stop at backward point – but numerous unforced errors kept the scoreboard ticking. Renuka, Pooja Vastrakar, Kiran Prabhu Navgire and Simran Bahadur, one of India’s substitute fielders, all managed to misjudge balls that escaped to go for four, while the one six that Dunkley hit was another chance – albeit a difficult one – that Harmanpreet Kaur dropped over the rope at long-off.
“It was not 100%, the conditions to play cricket, but still we put in the efforts,” Harmanpreet said afterwards. “The ground was too wet and there were so many chances to get injured – and one of our players [Radha] got injured also, she was our main bowler and that’s why we were one bowler short. But the way we were putting in the effort, I’m really happy.”
Despite being inserted in what appeared prime seam-bowling conditions, India enjoyed a solid powerplay, only losing Smriti Mandhana while pushing the score on to 41. Mandhana had tucked into the bowling of her Southern Brave team-mate Lauren Bell, on England debut, but fell to the second of two consecutive lbw reviews off Bryony Smith’s offspin.
It was spin that undermined India’s good start through the middle overs. Glenn’s first three balls went for six runs but she quickly corrected to bowl a skiddier length and had Shafali holing out to long-off. Sophie Ecclestone then delivered a maiden over to the returning Dayalan Hemalatha, playing her first T20I in more than three years, and the pressure perhaps contributed to Hemalatha swiping at a straight one in the next over to leave India 55 for 3.
Ecclestone’s second over went for 13, Ghosh launching an enormous six over deep midwicket, as India’s fourth-wicket pair threatened to kick on. But Ghosh miscued a Freya Davies slower ball to long-on and Harmanpreet was bowled by Glenn, the ball keeping horribly low to rattle off stump. When India’s debutant, Navgire, slog-swept straight to deep midwicket in the 17th over, Glenn had her first T20I four-for.
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick