Unconvincing England win series opener against Pakistan

First ODI, County Ground, Derby

England 243-9 (50 overs): Capsey 44 (65); Dar 3-56

Pakistan 206-9 (50 overs): Muneeba 34 (60); Ecclestone 3-26

England won by 37 runs


England comfortably beat Pakistan by 37 runs, despite a sub-par performance in an underwhelming one-day international series opener in Derby.

Chasing 244, Pakistan were well set for a surprise victory at 149-4 but fell short despite a spirited effort to reach 206-9 from 50 overs.

Sophie Ecclestone starred with 3-26, with two wickets apiece for fellow spinner Charlie Dean and seamers Lauren Bell and Kate Cross.

Despite a comprehensive margin of victory, England were unconvincing as plenty of batters made starts but failed to kick on in their 243-9.

Six batters reached 20, with Alice Capsey's 44 the top score, but none were able to convert to a half-century.

On a sluggish pitch and outfield that was impacted by the week's rain, Pakistan utilised their plethora of slow bowlers to frustrate England and restrict their ability to play with their desired aggression.

The preceding T20 series, which England swept 3-0, saw Pakistan fail batting second in each game but they showed improved grit and skill in the longer format amid ill-discipline from Heather Knight's side, who conceded 31 in wides.

Captain Nida Dar added stands of 38 and 32 with Muneeba Ali, who made 34, and Aliya Riaz, who made 21, to give England a slight scare in a flat middle-over phase before the lower order unravelled as the hosts closed in on victory.

The three-match ODI series continues at Taunton on Sunday.

Uncertain England struggle for fluency

Despite the pre-match talk focusing on maintaining the T20 side's aggressive approach and being "ruthless", England's batting innings lacked such a spark.

Considering the weather, some leeway must be given because of the nature of the pitch which probably did not lend itself to free-flowing strokeplay.

But England faced 26.2 overs in dot balls, and managed just four boundaries in the last 15 overs of the innings.

The frustration was the failure to capitalise on starts, though, with wickets thrown away as soon as a partnership started to settle.

The experienced quartet of Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight, Nat Sciver-Brunt and Amy Jones all fell for scores between 29 and 37, before Capsey tamely nudged one back to the bowler six runs short of a first ODI half-century.

England were missing the experienced Danni Wyatt, who was ruled out with illness, and her firepower in the middle overs was sorely missed, also meaning Charlie Dean was batting arguably one place too high at seven - though she did contribute a valuable 20.

Pakistan fought admirably, recovering from dropping Knight on nought and 18 early in the innings to chip away at the wickets column with their nagging accuracy.

But while they deserve credit, England are ranked second in the world in the format and Pakistan in 10th - and in the next two games, Knight and coach Jon Lewis have much to put right.

Pakistan improve amid England's sloppiness

The T20 series saw Pakistan bowled out for 79 and 110 before a more respectable 142-4 in their final outing, showing they are capable of starting well but struggle for a complete performance.

The first ODI showed much of the same but with more time for resistance, and while it may not have been an all-time classic, they have shown that they are edging closer.

A stubborn last-wicket stand that lasted 8.2 overs frustrated England, with Najiha Alvi - who also impressed behind the stumps - adding a gritty 26 from 57 balls.

But the extras column had the highest score of the innings, with 40, which summarised England's sloppy day in the field.

It is the most extras they have ever conceded in the format, while wicketkeeper Jones had a rare off-day with two dropped catches.

Ecclestone was as metronomic and threatening as ever and while the others' bowling figures were actually very respectable, it is the lack of discipline that let England down.

Their talk of entertaining and inspiring did not materialise - it arguably had little opportunity to - and with fewer opportunities to play ODI cricket in the sport's chaotic schedule, the turnaround must be a quick one.

'Scrappy is a good word for it' - reaction

Ex-England all-rounder Georgia Elwiss on BBC Test Match Special: “There was a little bit of rustiness of bowling long spells. They were trying to push for wickets early doors and didn't get it quite right.

“It probably won't happen again – it’s just been one of those days.”

England captain Heather Knight speaking to Sky Sports: "Scrappy is a good word for it. There are areas we can do a lot better, too many extras and lacking execution, but at the end of the day we got the job done.

“We haven't played a huge amount of one-day cricket, finding the tempo can be hard.”

Player of the match Sophie Ecclestone speaking to Sky Sports: "I think I got away with a few balls, it was quite cold out there. Sometimes I go searching for wickets but I am pleased to get the three.

“We didn't get enough runs, we should have got a few more, but we kept our intensity high.”