Brunt's five keeps England alive
England women renewed their hopes of a first series win in India thanks to a thrilling three-run win in the second one-day international in Bangalore.
Although a second batting collapse in the space of three days prevented them posting any more than 183 for eight at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, a blistering new-ball spell from Katherine Brunt, in which she took four wickets and forced Thirush Kamini to retire hurt, effectively reduced India to 22 for five.
Mithali Raj’s splendid unbeaten 91 was largely responsible for transforming a position of considerable peril into one from which India were expected to win: they required 11 off the last 19 balls with four wickets in hand.
But Jenny Gunn struck twice in quick succession before Brunt returned to the attack to bowl Preeti Dimri, leaving India needing five off the final over with the last pair at the crease.
Gunn, who earlier hit a fine half-century, conceded a single to Raj off her first delivery, Gouher Sultana failed to score off the second and, in a breathless finish, Caroline Atkins and Gunn combined to run her out off the third as she tried to get Raj back on strike.
Brunt finished with 5-22 - her best figures in one-day internationals - while the nerveless Gunn claimed 2-38. Off-spinner Laura Marsh also deserves great credit for conceding just 28 runs off 10 overs.
England’s total was built around Gunn, who made 64 from 92 balls at number three following Ebony Rainford-Brent’s promotion to the top of the order.
Rainford-Brent followed up her half-century on Friday with 27, adding 50 with Gunn for the second wicket after putting on 36 with Atkins for the first.
However, England’s effort was undermined once again by a middle-order collapse that saw them lose five wickets for just 15 runs in under five overs, and it need Brunt’s cameo unbeaten 21 off 11 deliveries, which contained four fours, to supply some much-needed impetus late on.
Slow left-armer Gouher Sultana was the chief architect behind India’s recovery, claiming three wickets in quick succession to go with the earlier scalp of Rainford-Brent as she finished with 4-30 - and took her tally for the series to seven.
Brunt made an even greater impact, bowling Anagha Deshpande with the third ball of the innings before having Anjum Chopra caught behind.
Priyanka Roy and Rumeli Dhar fell lbw in successive deliveries in Brunt’s fourth over to leave India reeling on 16 for four, and their cause was not helped when Kamini, batting with a runner after sustaining a knee injury in the field, retired hurt after aggravating the problem evading a Brunt bouncer moments later.
Raj, however, shared a momentum-shifting stand of 106 with Amita Sharma, who made 40, and put on a further 45 with Jhulan Goswami to carry India to the brink of victory.
Yet England - surprisingly beaten in the West Indies before Christmas and by 35 runs in Friday’s series opener - served a reminder of their credentials with a remarkable late fightback, initiated by Gunn’s dismissal of Goswami - stumped off a wide - and Nooshin Al Khadeer in the same over.
Brunt bettered her figures of 5-25 against South Africa at Lord’s in 2008 by removing Dimri with the first ball of the penultimate over, and Gunn held her nerve to ensure England head to Visakhapatnam for the third game of the five-match series on Wednesday with honours even.
The new Brit Insurance 2010-11 official England Cricket Team kit will be available to pre order from April 1 via ecb.co.uk, and in store from April 29