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The Indian women’s cricket team defeated hosts England by 35 runs in their opening match of their ICC Women’s World Cup campaign today, marking their first victory over the England team in over six years and six previous matches. India’s top order fired with all guns blazing after being asked to bat first by the hosts. Smriti Mandhana scored 90 off 72 balls while forging a massive 144-run stand with Poonam Raut to help India take a commanding position in the match. Skipper Mithali Raj herself got an unbeaten 71 to set an imposing target of 281. An under-pressure England folded for 246 with 15 balls to go, to hand the Indian team a famous victory under the overcast skies in Derby.

Opener Mandhana was coming off a six-month long injury layoff, but showed no signs of rustiness as she took the England bowling to the cleaners, reserving attention especially for Katherine Blunt. India got to 59 for no loss in the powerplay overs, 40 of which Mandhana scored herself. Mandhana hit Katherine for four boundaries in five balls in her second over, as she mangled the fearsome English bowling attack. Mandhana finally fell to a miscued pull shot in the elective powerplay overs, falling short of a World Cup century by a mere ten runs. Meanwhile, her partner Raut had quietly notched up a half century too and Mandhana’s fall brought on the Indian skipper who notched up a record seventh consecutive half century to prove the pink of the form she has had over this season.

India finished with 281 for three, setting England the highest run chase ever, and the home team floundered with Shikha Pandey’s two early strikes throwing the run chase off balance. Deepti Sharma sent back Natalie Sciver (18) as England succumbed to 67 for 3 by the end of the 18th over. Heather Knight, who fell short of a well deserved half century, and Fran Wilson then helped England off the 100-run mark, before Knight was sent back in an unfortunate run out in the 32nd over. Wilson then put on 62 runs with Brunt to lead the fightback but they were both run out too, causing the England batting to fold up well short of the target in the 48th over.