ODI newcomer Sophia Dunkley helps England to narrow win over India

England clawed their way to a five-wicket win in the second one‑day international at Taunton with 15 balls to spare, coming out on top in a close contest against India thanks to an unbeaten 73 from Sophia Dunkley, who played with a confidence belying the fact that her debut in the format had come only three days previously.

Earlier the seamer Kate Cross had claimed five for 34 – the best by any England bowler on home soil since Anya Shrubsole’s six for 46 in the 2017 World Cup final – as India were bowled out for 221.

“I know that I’ve been bowling really well recently but it’s always tricky when you’re trying to cement your place in the team and this is a really difficult team to get in,” Cross said. “There was a lot of relief there. More than anything I’m pleased that I could take some wickets and help the team into a good position.”

The victory means England have won the ODI leg of the multiformat series 2-0, while they take a 6-2 lead in the series overall. They were reduced to 92 for four inside the first 22 overs of their chase, thanks to the efforts of the wicketkeeper Taniya Bhatia, who snaffled two catches. India seemed reinvigorated in the field despite the absence of their captain, Mithali Raj, who was unable to take the field during England’s chase because of neck pain sustained after being hit on the helmet during her innings.

But Dunkley’s confidence at the crease, rotating the strike with Amy Jones (28) and Katherine Brunt (33 not out), turned the match in England’s favour. She brought up her maiden ODI half-century in 63 balls, sending a ball from Shikha Pandey flying through backward point for four, and remained unbeaten to enjoy the sight of Brunt hitting the winning runs in the 48th over.

“We were tested today, which is good for our development as a side,” the captain, Heather Knight, said. “Sophia’s innings was so important, such a mature innings – she kept it simple and made the No 6 spot her own.”

Dunkley’s clear head proved critical in the field, too, holding a catch at deep midwicket to give Cross her fourth wicket, as well as running out Mithali by a metre, throwing in from deep square-leg. That dismissal came after the India captain had brought up her second consecutive half-century which, together with 44 from Shafali Verma, formed the mainstay of the Indian batting after England chose to bowl first.

India had responded to their pasting in the first ODI on Sunday with a change in personnel and mindset, bringing in Jemimah Rodrigues to bat at three and scoring at nearly five an over in the powerplay, reaching 48 without loss after 10 overs.

Brunt was left fuming after Verma looked to have got the better of the England attack, with the 17‑year‑old once again proving audaciously entertaining. She whipped out a lofted drive against Shrubsole before paddling Cross over short fine-leg, while Brunt had to endure a missed chance off her own bowling – Lauren Winfield-Hill shelling a catch at mid‑off when Verma was on 21.

Brunt then conceded 18 runs off the penultimate over of the Indian innings, with a run-a-ball 19 from Goswami helping India to push their total above 200.

Between times two crucial spells from Cross had dented Indian hopes. Introduced in the 12th over, it took her only five balls to strike, inducing an inside edge from Smriti Mandhana (22) on to the stumps. Four overs later she had Rodrigues caught at mid-on attempting the pull.

By the time she returned in the 34th over Mithali and Harmanpreet Kaur (19) had added 63 for the fourth wicket. But Cross made the breakthrough, unsettling Harmanpreet, who played wildly across the line and sent up a top edge which was snaffled by Cross. Eventually Sneh Rana skied a catch to Knight at mid-off to give Cross her fifth wicket, Knight juggling it but hanging on.

Cross, who last claimed a five‑wicket haul in New Zealand in February 2015 and has never before done so on home soil, was forced to sit out last summer’s T20 series against West Indies despite being part of England’s biosecure bubble but claimed her moment in the spotlight here in front of a joyous crowd.