England beat Pakistan in ODI opener as Sophie Ecclestone edges closer to record

PA Ready, England, Pakistan, Alice Capsey, Heather Knight, Tammy Beaumont, Kate Cross, Nat Sciver-Brunt

England players celebrate the key wicket of Muneeba Ali during their ODI victory against Pakistan in Derby (Bradley Collyer/PA) (PA Wire)

England eased home by 37 runs against Pakistan to strike the first blow of their three-match ODI series in Derby.

Chasing 244 for victory, Pakistan finished on 206 for nine as spinners Sophie Ecclestone (three for 26) and Charlie Dean (two for 39) turned the contest England’s way.

Ecclestone moved within two wickets of becoming the fastest to reach three figures in women’s ODI cricket, although she must achieve that in the second game of the series on Sunday to eclipse Australia’s Cathryn Fitzpatrick.

Pakistan were handily placed at 149 for four in the 35th over, but the fall of five wickets for 29 runs in the space of seven overs killed off their hopes.

Sadaf Shamas, Muneeba Ali and captain Nida Dar – who had earlier taken three wickets – built decent foundations as Pakistan sought their first-ever ODI win over England at the 13th attempt,.

The tourists also benefited from some wayward England bowling, with a staggering 31 wides part of a record total of 40 extras, as well as two rare spills behind the stumps from Amy Jones.

But Lauren Bell (two for 31) found movement off the pitch to break through at the top of the order, and Ecclestone and Dean turned the screw before Kate Cross claimed a couple of late wickets.

Asked to bat, England – who were without Danni Wyatt due to illness – made 243 for nine from their 50 overs.

Maia Bouchier made 17 before falling to Nashra Sandhu and fellow opener Tammy Beaumont, back on international duty after being overlooked for T20 action, went for 33 as Umm-e-Hani won another lbw appeal.

Skipper Heather Knight was dropped twice by Hani, on nought and 18, but eventually departed for 29 as wicket-keeper Najiha Alvi held her attempted cut off Aliya Riaz.

With Nat Sciver-Brunt, averaging a handsome 80 against Pakistan, falling for 31 to another catch behind off Riaz, England were 118 for four and in need of stability at the halfway stage.

It arrived in the form of a skilful partnership of 67 between Alice Capsey and Jones, who dominated the alliance with 37 from 38 balls.

Teenager Capsey showed maturity beyond her years for an ODI-best 44 following a run of low scores in this format of the game.

Dean produced a useful 20 as Fatima Sana’s final-over drop – the fourth of the innings – prevented Pakistan from bowling out England for the first time in a one-day game.

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