'Scrappy' England beat India to keep World Cup hopes alive
England skittled India to keep their faltering Women's Cricket World Cup defence alive on Wednesday, but not before a brittle batting display chasing a small target produced some nervous moments.
In a must-win match after three successive defeats, England dismissed India for 134 in 36.2 overs at Mount Maunganui as spinner Charlie Dean took a career-best 4-23.
The four-time champions made a poor start to the run chase and were two wickets down with just four runs on the board before overhauling their 135 target with more than 18 overs to spare.
"It's a relief to be honest, we just needed that," said captain Heather Knight, who top scored for her side with an unbeaten 53 in England'a 136-6 in 31.2 overs.
"It was a bit scrappy in the end, a few more wickets than we'd like, but hopefully it's the start of a momentum shift."
England's campaign remains on a knife-edge and they must win their remaining pool games against New Zealand, Pakistan and Bangladesh to avoid an early exit.
India have two wins from four matches, putting them level with New Zealand and the West Indies on points in the race for the semi-finals.
England's decision to bowl after winning the toss paid dividends when Anya Shrubsole sent Yastika Bhatia on her way for eight and Mithali Raj for one.
Raj's dismissal involved a sharply taken catch from Sophia Dunkley, lifting the spirits of an England team that has been plagued by poor fielding at this year's tournament.
There was a further bonus for England when Deepti Sharma was run out for a duck attempting a reckless single, leaving India at 28-3 after eight overs.
That brought together Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur, who both scored centuries and forged a record-breaking 184-run partnership in India's last match against the West Indies on Saturday.
There were no such heroics against England as Kaur was dismissed for 14 and Mandhana managed 35 as India slumped to 71-6.
Richa Ghosh offered some resistance with 33 but India could only set a modest 135-run target.
England made a disastrous start to the run chase as Tammy Beaumont and Danni Wyatt managed just one run each.
It could have been worse, with fast bowler Jhulan Goswami beating Nat Sciver's bat, only for the ball to gently roll off her pads and hit the stumps without dislodging the bails.
Scriver was on four at the time and advanced to 45 before hitting an easy catch when trying to lift the run rate.
There was a flurry of wickets as England closed in on the total but they finished comfortably.