BRISTOL: Skipper Mithali Raj led from the front with a patient 72 to guide India Women to a modest 201 for eight against England Women in the first ODI of the three-match series here on Sunday.
Mithali held India's innings together following two early dismissals after the visitors were sent in to bat. She shared two crucial partnerships -- 56 runs with Punam Raut (32) and 65 with Deepti Sharma (30) -- to take India forward.
But the start was far from impressive as India lost both the openers cheaply.
Touted as the next big thing in Indian women's cricket, teen sensation Shafali Verma's much-anticipated ODI debut lasted just 14 balls from which she scored 15 runs with the help of three fours.
Shafali, who became the youngest Indian cricketer to make debut across formats on Sunday, perished in search of too many big shots when she miscued a Katherine Brunt (2/35) delivery to Anya Shrubsole at mid-on in the fifth over.
Smriti Mandhana (10) followed soon when Shrubsole (2/33) went through her defence before Punam and Mithali resurrected the innings.
After the early dismissals, both Punam and Mithali played cautiously but did not hesitate to punish the bad balls.
When the partnership was just starting to flourish, Punam departed by handing a simple catch to Sophie Ecclestone off Kate Cross.
India vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur's (1) poor form continued as he didn't trouble the scorers much, sneaking one to Amy Jones off Ecclestone (3/40).
It was a struggle for experienced campaigner Mithali early on.
She found boundaries hard to come by, notching up her fifty in 95 balls with a four off Shrubsole.
Together with Deepti, Mithali then added 65 runs for the fifth wicket before the former was dismissed, LBW to Shrubsole.
But soon after Deepti's dismissal, Mithali changed gears and hit three boundaries in an over, slicing and lofting Shrubsole to amass 15 runs off the 44th over.
Just when Mithali was looking dangerous, Ecclestone got rid of her in the 46th over as India slumped to 180 for 6.
Shikha Pandey (3) and Jhulan Goswami (1) remained unbeaten to help India get past the 200-run mark.