|First Twenty20 international, Chester-le-Street|
|India 132-7 (20 overs): Sharma 29; Glenn 4-23|
|England 134-1 (13 overs): Dunkley 61*, Capsey 32*|
|England won by nine wickets|
England raced to an emphatic nine-wicket victory with 42 balls to spare in the first T20 international against India.
Leg-spinner Sarah Glenn produced career-best figures of 4-23 at a damp Chester-le-Street after stand-in captain Amy Jones chose to bowl on a pitch that looked good for seam bowling.
But it was slow bowler Bryony Smith who dismissed Smriti Mandhana lbw before Glenn’s wickets restricted India to 132-7.
England then raced to their target in just 13 overs as Sophia Dunkley and Alice Capsey put on an unbroken partnership of 74 runs in just 40 balls.
It was the bowling of Glenn that set the tone for the match, as she trapped Dayalan Hemalatha lbw in between both Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh holing out to Bryony Smith in the deep off the leg-spinner.
Glenn then bowled captain Harmanpreet Kaur in the middle overs and while Deepti Sharma staged a mini-revival towards the close, the India total soon proved inadequate.
It was a shaky start from Dunkley, who only survived an opening-over lbw dismissal after Renuka Singh Thakur was judged to have over-stepped the crease.
But the 24-year-old grew into her innings, punishing the touring bowlers as she reached her first Twenty20 international 50 from 36 balls.
Partnered first by Danni Wyatt – who fell to an impressive stumping by Ghosh – then Capsey, it was fitting that Dunkley’s pulled four off Thakur sealed a comfortable England victory.
The series continues with the second Twenty20 international at Derby on Tuesday.
Inexperienced England impress
As England plot their route to the Twenty20 World Cup next February, they may have initially felt some concern at the number of senior players absent from this series.
Seamer Katherine Brunt – England’s leading wicket-taker in this format – was rested, while captain Heather Knight is still nursing a hip injury sustained earlier this summer.
Nat Sciver had been set to replace Knight, but withdrew herself on Thursday as she focuses on her mental health.
So new captain Amy Jones led an inexperienced England XI onto the field, with a debut handed to seamer Lauren Bell and two teenagers – Capsey and Freya Kemp – also included in the line-up.
Coach Lisa Keightley, in her last series overseeing the side, may have feared for her charges, who lost to India in the Commonwealth Games semi-finals last month with both Brunt and Sciver in the side.
But Glenn and Dunkley, relative veterans at 23 and 24 respectively, marshalled an England display that easily outshone that of their more experienced opponents, who produced a sloppy display in the field, offering up multiple runs through misfields and lethargic running.
A similar display at Derby from the tourists would likely see England take an insurmountable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, while the hosts will take heart from the confident performance from their youthful line-up.
‘Young, excitable and fearless’ – Jones
Stand-in captain Amy Jones: “What a start. I think there’s just so many positives we can take from it into the rest of the games.
“It’s been an emotional few days and, as a group, all we said was go out and bring the energy this evening which is a controllable thing. If you look around the team we’ve got this evening, it’s young and it’s excitable and contains lots of fearless cricketers.
“Three key players are not here for us and it would have been easy for us a team to let that us affect us and how we want to play but to come out and play so freely and confidently with a relatively inexperienced side is brilliant to see.”
On Dunkley and Glenn: “Dunks is a perfectionist and she’ll sit there today and probably look at things that she wanted to do differently. But from the sideline she’s just so impressive. She battled through the start and then to play the shots she did so freely was great. She’s hard on herself and I think she’s achieved such a high level at a young age and she’s very impressive.
“[Glenn] was great and she’s been a real container for us for a while now. She can build dots. She’s so hard to face. I’ve faced her in the nets and she’s skiddy and she’s tall and she can really build pressure with dots and it was great that she got wickets for us today and she’s just key in those middle overs.”