|T20 tri-series, Manuka Oval, Canberra|
|England 147-7 (20 overs): Knight 67, Beaumont 37, Gayakwad 2-19|
|India 150-5 (19.3 overs): Kaur 42*, Verma 30, Brunt 2-33|
|India won by five wickets|
England suffered defeat in their opening T20 tri-series match against India at Manuka Oval, Canberra.
India captain Harmanpreet Kaur steered her side to a five-wicket victory with an unbeaten 42, sealing victory with a six as England’s new era under coach Lisa Keightley began with a loss.
Heather Knight’s half-century helped England post 147-7, but India won with three balls to spare.
England’s next game is against Australia on Saturday (03:00 GMT).
Knight leads from the front
This tri-series, which culminates in a final at Junction Oval, Melbourne, on 12 February, serves as a warm-up for next month’s T20 World Cup, also on Australian soil, and this opening match will have left Keightley with plenty to ponder.
While there were positives in the form of skipper Knight and a punchy knock from Tammy Beaumont in the middle order, they lost a number of key batters cheaply and made some costly mistakes in the field.
That they took the game to the final over is testament to their battling qualities.
Knight, who was particularly effective sweeping the India spinners, rescued England from 59-4 at the halfway point but did benefit from being dropped three times.
She and Beaumont, in her new position in the middle order, put on 69 in 45 balls to take England to within sight of 150-plus, but a flurry of late wickets saw them end on 147-7.
Kaur anchors run chase
England thought they had got off to a perfect start in the field when Katherine Brunt had Smriti Mandhana caught behind in the second over of India’s reply.
However, replays showed England wicketkeeper Amy Jones had spilled the ball when she rolled over after taking the catch and Mandhana was reprieved.
Both Mandhana (15) and Shafali Verma (30) played expansively to put India ahead of the rate, but England’s disciplined bowling and some excellent fielding from the likes of Lauren Winfield pegged them back.
It looked like England’s pressure might be beginning to tell on India when a fifth wicket fell with 26 still needed off the final three overs.
And the task would have been even more difficult had substitute fielder Mady Villiers not dropped Deepti Sharma at long on, but Kaur kept her cool and played a captain’s knock – hitting five boundaries and a six in an unbeaten 42 off 34 balls.
It leaves England needing to beat world champions Australia on Saturday to stay in contention in this brief tri-series.
What they said
England captain Heather Knight, who was named player of the match: “It was a close game and there were lots of little things we can identify and look to improve.
“You want to win every game you play but sometimes a game like that can be really valuable for picking up things that you want to work on.
“Tammy batted really well and I was happy with how we took the game so deep, it’s something we’ve got a pretty good record of doing.
“It wasn’t to be, in the end, but hopefully it’s a performance that can stand us in good stead going forward.”
India captain Harmanpreet Kaur: “We enjoyed it and are really happy we did everything we set out to do. We definitely need to improve in the field though.”
Article courtesy of BBC Sport