Asked to bat, Beaumont (57-ball 62) and Danielle Wyatt (35) added 89 runs for the opening wicket to get England off to a fantastic start. Knight them came in and blasted 40 off just 20 deliveries to lead England to 160 for 4 in 20 overs. In reply, the home team were restricted to just 119 for 6 in their 20 overs.
Wyatt and Beaumont started steadily, managing only 14 runs in the first three overs. Wyatt finally opened her arms by smashing Deepti Sharma for back to back boundaries before Beaumont too collected a four in the same over.
The two then kept going thereon and didn't allow any bowler to settle in. Arundhati Reddy (0 for 45) and Radha Yadav (2 for 33) struggled to get their line and length right and both England batters made the most of it. Reddy conceded three fours in the sixth over and that allowed Wyatt and Beaumont to bring up their 50-run stand.
Beaumont was the aggressor between the two and was once toying with the field in the middle stage of the innings. Indian skipper Smriti Mandhana was forced to bring Shikha Pandey back into the attack and the right-arm medium pacer was the one who broke the partnership by getting Wyatt caught at covers. Natalie Sciver (4), the No. 3 batter, then swept one straight into the hands of square leg off the bowling of Radha.
Two quick wickets allowed India to break England's momentum as they could only manage 15 runs in the space of five overs. That phase also broke Beaumont's rhythm who despite getting to her fifty struggled to get going. England needed a fiery finish and that's when Knight chipped in.
The England skipper straightaway started playing those cheeky shots and that took the pressure off Beaumont. It was in the 18th over when Knight smoked five fours in five deliveries of Reddy and turned the tide in England's favour. It all started with a sweep towards deep square leg before hitting three fours through the covers. Knight ended the over with another boundary down the ground, bring an end to Reddy's horrible day with ball in hand.
The two added 59 runs for the third wicket, with Knight doing most of the scoring, hitting seven fours during her stay in the middle. Both Knight and Beaumont perished in the final two overs but by then the damage had already been done.
India needed a good start from the newly-formed opening pair of Mandhana and debutant Harleen Deol and they were helped by two wides that went for four in the first two overs. Harleen then sliced one past point four and just when it looked like were moving along nicely, Katherine Brunt got rid of Harleen for 8 with a gem of an inswinger.
Knight then made a bold move by introducing left-arm spinner Linsey Smith into the attack and Mandhana fell prey as she mistimed one straight into the hands of the long on fielder when she was on 2. Jemimah Rodrigues (2) then tried to tickle the next delivery down the leg side but ended up edging it to the wicketkeeper.
Before the dust had settled, India lost Mithali Raj (7) and Veda Krishnamurthy (15) in the next few overs and the home side were reduced to 46 for 5. While Mithali ballooned one to the cover fielder, Veda once again failed to convert her start and offered a simple catch to the mid-off fielder.
Deepti Sharma (22*) and Reddy then had a little partnership but hardly caused any threat to England. The duo added 30 runs before Brunt returned to send Reddy back for 18 with a slower delivery. Deepti and Shikha (23*) then played out the remaining overs and added 43 runs to ensure India at least got closer to the 120-run mark.
The second T20I will be played at the same venue on Thursday.
First Published: March 4, 2019, 2:13 PM IST