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England’s Alice Capsey leads the way in ‘scrappy’ ODI win over Pakistan
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England’s Alice Capsey leads the way in ‘scrappy’ ODI win over Pakistan

Alice Capsey hit a career-best 44 from 65 balls as England comfortably beat Pakistan by 37 runs in the first ODI against Pakistan at Derby.

But despite the victory margin the captain, Heather Knight described England’s performance as “scrappy” and “a little bit lacking in execution”, after a frustrating unbeaten 28-run last-wicket stand by the tourists.

“We want to be ruthless,” Charlie Dean said. “Against teams like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa who have more depth in batting, we need to make sure that partnerships don’t form near the back end. How we go about that is something we’re exploring.”

Put in to bat under grey skies, England had managed to score 243 for nine on a stodgy pitch which had been soaked by a deluge of rainfall on the eve of the game. But their innings never fully launched – there were bits-and-pieces contributions from all their top seven, but no one reached a half-century.

Capsey came the closest, but even she struggled to pace her innings, missing several attempted reverses and ramps in her 67-run partnership with Amy Jones, before finally plonking the ball back into the hands of bowler Nashra Sandhu in the 44th over.

Surprisingly, the usually flawless Jones shelled a couple of straightforward chances behind the stumps, helping Pakistan put a decent dent in their chase by the halfway point, reaching 106 for three. They were helped by some wayward English bowling, with the hosts conceding 40 extras to Pakistan’s eight – a record for England in the 50-over format.

Jones was given the chance to atone in both cases – holding on to edges from the same batters, Sidra Amin and Muneeba Ali, off balls from Lauren Bell which jagged away. The curse of Pakistan’s brittle batting then struck again, as they slumped from 149 for four to 178 for nine in the space of eight overs. But as their opponents finally decided to batten down the hatches, England failed to finish the job.

Sophie Ecclestone celebrates with Amy Jones after dismissing Pakistan’s Sadaf Shamas.View image in fullscreen

Knight had called for England to “soak up pressure” and to play with “calculated aggression” in the eve-of-series press conference, but no one quite found that sweet spot on Thursday – least of all the skipper herself. She was dropped twice, the first time on nought trying to punch down the ground, and proceeded to crawl to 29 from 49 balls before finally swiping at one from Aliya Riaz outside off and toe-ending it to the keeper.

Nat Sciver-Brunt thumped back-to-back boundaries through the leg side against Nida Dar, but fell in similar unnecessary fashion to the same bowler two overs after her captain.

Otherwise, the remaining seven England wickets fell to spin (where have we heard that one before?). That included two to off-spinner Umm-e-Hani, who had missed out on selection in the T20s but on Thursday took just 13 balls to remove Tammy Beaumont lbw after she failed to nail the sweep shot. “Slow bowling with the off side up is our nemesis,” Dean said. “It’s the kind of bowling we don’t typically face in regional cricket, so it’s a challenge.”

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Dean herself – batting at No 7 for the first time since September 2021 – chipped in with 20 to add a bit of impetus at the back end of the innings, but in the main there was a surprising lack of confidence on display from a side who had whitewashed their opponents in the 20-over format a mere four days ago.

England were partly hobbled by the unexpected absence of the in-form Danni Wyatt, who missed out through illness. That did, however, remove coach Jon Lewis’s selection headache, giving him a chance to throw in all three of his spinners for the first time in 50-over cricket, as well as two seam options in the shape of Bell and Kate Cross.

All bar Sarah Glenn chimed in with wickets, but there was also a lack of discipline at times, not least from Sophie Ecclestone, whose full tosses provided easy middle-overs pickings for Dar and Riaz.

Dean, though, eventually removed the pair in successive overs – Dar slog-sweeping to Beaumont in the deep, before Riaz appealed in vain to DRS after missing a sweep shot and being struck in front of leg stump – and a Pakistan mini-collapse of three for seven in 13 balls turned into an Ecclestone-inspired maxi-collapse which cost them the match.

Source: theguardian.com