Resilient Raj downs England
Mithali Raj led from the front as India women ended England’s 18-match winning run with a stunning five-wicket victory in the first NatWest Series one-day international at Lord’s.
The tourists' captain struck an unbeaten 94 from 111 balls, sharing in stands of 106 and 89 with Poonam Raut and Harmanpreet Kaur, who made 60 and 50 respectively, to help her side home with three balls remaining.
England, fresh from winning the NatWest International T20 series 2-0, lost wickets at regular intervals and were dismissed in the final over for 229 despite 58 from Arran Brindle.
Charlotte Edwards’ decision to bat first backfired in the second over as she was trapped lbw by Nagarajan Niranjana.
Tammy Beaumont and Sarah Taylor helped England, lacking the services of the injured Lydia Greenway, to 67 in the 18th until the former fell in identical fashion to her captain.
Heather Knight and Brindle had the task of rebuilding the innings following the loss of Taylor four overs later for 38, with the pair adding 38 in eight overs.
But Knight and Laura Marsh became Veda Krishnamurthy and Gouher Sultana’s only victims, either side of Jenny Gunn providing Niranjana with figures of 3-28 off 10 overs.
And when Brindle’s 73-ball knock came to an end with the score on 181, England were struggling with eight overs remaining.
Danni Wyatt and Katherine Brunt added 20 and 13 before Das, who took 4-61, wrapped up the innings by bowling Danielle Hazell as England sacrificed the final five balls of the 50 overs.
In reply, India saw Mona Meshram run out by Wyatt, but England struggled to move Raut and Raj, who cleverly set a platform with a 25-over stay at the crease.
Raut eventually fell to the spin of Hazell, only for India to again frustrate the hosts with another excellent partnership.
Kaur’s rapid innings helped take India past 200 and, despite a run out following wickets from Wyatt and Hazell, player of the match Raj was there at the end to ensure India took a 1-0 lead in the five-game series.
Brindle admitted it was a bad day at the office for England, saying: "We are disappointed with our performance today; we didn't hit our straps as much as we would have liked and the result has gone against us.
"We felt we were 20 or 30 runs short and knew it would be a fairly tight game but thought, if we bowled well, we could defend it pretty well. Unfortunately it hasn't worked today. We will review the game and our performance and get back to best come Taunton on Wednesday.”