Taylor leads England to series win

Nicola Shaw

Nicky Shaw appeals during her eight-over spell at Taunton on Thursday

Claire Taylor hit the winning run on her 100th one-day appearance as England overcame both India and the dismal Taunton weather to clinch the NatWest Series against India.

On a day when the rain looked the only winner, India reached 126 for two from 35.2 overs when the second torrential downpour of the afternoon reduced the outfield to a paddling pool.

The rain finally relented but with India's innings killed off by the weather, England were set 99 to win from 21 overs under the Duckworth-Lewis calculations - a straightforward enough task were it not for the menacing black clouds that made Charlotte Edwards' garish pink bat grip stand out like a beacon.

Captain Edwards and starlet Sarah Taylor gave England the perfect start, scoring 25 and 24 respectively, leaving the stage set for Claire Taylor, who earlier picked up for 100th cap.

The centurion was in typically fine form - a beautiful back-foot drive to get off the mark as good as anything all day - and she found a perfect ally in Lydia Greenway, who employed the reverse sweep to good effect.

The script was perfect as it was left to player-of-the-moment Taylor to complete the eight-wicket win with a deft dab to third man.

With the overnight rain and bleak forecast, it was no surprise when Edwards won the toss and elected to bowl first.

India opener Jaya Sharma has endured a torrid tour and looked unlikely to end her dismal run as Katherine Brunt and Isa Guha bowled with nagging accuracy.

Mithali Raj & Sarah Taylor

India skipper Mithali Raj hits out on the way to 55

She finally got off the mark for the international summer when she carefully deflected her 54th delivery of the series to the third man boundary.

Free of the shackles, Sharma - squat and bottom-handed in the mould of Sanath Jayasuriya, minus the brutal power - pulled and drove Guha to the fence in quick succession, making a mockery of her horrible early form.

At the other end captain Mithali Raj, optimistically wearing a sun hat despite the Somerset gloom, was having little trouble finding her touch on the Taunton deck. A classical batter who scored a double hundred here in 2002, her serene back-foot drive off Guha for four was simply majestic.

The pair brought up the 50-run partnership, which came off 75 balls, when Raj squeezed a single off Nicky Shaw.

The stand, the team's highest of the series, would have been greater had it not been for some slack running between the wickets. Their scoring was also contained by Brunt's excellent spell, bowling her allocation of eight overs to finish with a miserly 1-10.

The pair picked up the tempo as spinner Holly Colvin and Shaw wheeled away, and moved to 96 for one in the 29th over when Raj launched Shaw over midwicket for a rare boundary.

Edwards brought herself into the attack with eight overs remaining, a bold move to lead from the front and one which proved worthwhile.

It was Shaw who brought the 98-run partnership to an end, although Sarah Taylor ought to take the plaudits for a smart stumping to dismiss Sharma for 42.

That wicket left India 104 for two with just over seven overs left - a decent platform for a late assault.

India sent in Amita Sharma to boost the run-rate but, despite some meaty swings, she failed to connect with most of her attempted swipes. Taking a quick single to get Raj back on strike might have been a better ploy than swishing madly.

Charlotte Edwards

Charlotte Edwards bowled at the death as India scored 126 for two

Raj moved to a well-crafted half-century - her 25th in one-day internationals - with a sublime drive through the covers off Jenny Gunn.

After a couple of profitable overs the runs dried up, a stark contrast to the outfield which began to form puddles as more rain came down forcing the players to run for cover.

The stoppage terminated the India innings and after a recalculation, England were set 99 to win from 21 overs.

England shuffled their batting order, promoting Edwards in place of the more watchful Caroline Atkins, but the dashing Taylor showed why she was retained at the top of the order with a delightful cover drive in Jhulen Goswami's first over.

She was rather fortunate in the fourth over,though, successive edges off Niranjana Nagarajan flying both through the slip region. The 19-year-old would have had her heart in her mouth later in the over when a thin edge saved her from being leg before.

Edwards followed the teenager's lead, sweeping Neetu David for four in the seventh over.

However, England suffered a setback moments later when Taylor set off on a suicidal single and was run out at the non-striker's end to leave her side 46 for one.

The wicket saw one Taylor replace another, with Claire coming to the crease. The prolific batter soon got off the mark with an exquisite back-foot drive off Amita Sharma, a shot of the highest order.

An ominous black cloud hovered over the picturesque ground but Taylor was having little trouble seeing the ball, a powerful sweep to the square-leg boundary ample evidence of her form. She followed that up with a carbon-copy next ball even if the second stroke was timed less well.

Edwards departed to a top-edged sweep but new batter Greenway kept the momentum going with an array of fine shots which included an audacious reverse sweep for four.