India began their ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 campaign with a win over England in the opener and captain of the team Mithali Raj credited her openers Smriti Mandhana and Punam Raut for the 35-run win over the hosts at Derby.
Batting first, India posted 281 for the loss of three wickets, thanks to a 144-run opening stand between Mandhana and Raut. The former scored a majestic 90 off just 72 balls while Raut scored 86 off 134 balls.
“It’s important you get a good start, it was a brilliant partnership from the openers, so we knew we could post 250-plus. I realised the wicket didn’t assist the bowlers but the spinners bowled in the right areas,” Raj said.
Raj herself scored 71 runs, her seventh consecutive fifty-plus scored in ODIs which is now a record in women’s ODI cricket. She said that because the openers were in good touch, India took the powerplay early.
“Both batters were hitting the ball well, getting boundaries every over, so we decided to take the Powerplay while they were set,” she said.
Mandhana was named the player-of-the-match for her 90-run innings but she later injured his leg while fielding. But after the match, she confirmed that she will fit for the next match.
“It’s not the knee, it’s the hamstring, so should be okay [for the next match]. I think I enjoyed batting with Punam. We were both at the right ends, facing inswingers, and had a very good partnership, hopefully, we can continue going forward. The last five and a half months have been tough but the team physios were incredible in making me [fit to] play,” she said.
England were bowled out for 246 in 47.3 overs but skipper Heather Knight said that the bowlers had to do a better job against India’s top order.
“We thought it would do a bit more but to be honest we didn’t put it in the right areas, didn’t hit our lines and lengths and made it easier for them. We bowled too short and let them get away,” she said.
“We pulled it back in the middle, backed ourselves to chase that score but lost a few too many wickets and struggled. I thought we were in the game throughout, we got a couple of partnerships going, definitely, when Fran and Katherine were going we were confident. It was a brilliant match, credit to India, they outplayed us. Nice to gave a good game but disappointing to lose.”