England bounced back from their T20 series defeat to Sri Lanka in emphatic fashion by hammering the visitors by seven wickets in the opening one-day international of their three-match series in Durham.
Mahika Gaur (3-26) and Lauren Filer (3-27), two of three ODI debutants named in the side, starred with the ball, taking three wickets apiece, as did leg-spinner Sarah Glenn (3-20), to see Sri Lanka dismissed for 106 in just 30.2 of their allotted 50 overs.
In reply, England needed just 18 overs to wrap up victory, with Maia Bouchier (17no) – rounding off the debutants – hitting a couple of crisp cover drives to the boundary, including one to clinch victory.
England’s struggles with the bat in the T20 series against Sri Lanka came predominantly against spin, and when batting first, so it was no real surprise to see skipper Heather Knight change things up and elect to bowl when winning the toss.
Despite what looked like perfect conditions for batting on a gloriously sunny day in the north-east, Sri Lanka lost both openers early as Gaur made a hugely impressive start to her England ODI career.
The left-arm seamer got the ball moving around to beat the defences of both the dangerous Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu (10) and partner Anushka Sanjeewani (5).
Glenn pinned Vishmi Gunaratne (9) lbw immediately after the conclusion of the opening powerplay, before Filer then ripped through the middle-order, with her pace and shorter length proving too hot to handle.
Hasini Perera (10) was the first to fend a nick through to Amy Jones, before Kavisha Dilhari (9) and Nilakshi de Silva (0) followed suit a couple of overs later, to consecutive deliveries to see Filer on a hat-trick.
Harshitha Samarawickrama (35), the only Sri Lankan batter to pass 10, was next to depart – a feathered edge down the legside off Alice Capsey (1-12) detected after an England review – before Glenn and Gaur combined to clean up the tail, the latter ending the innings in the same way she started it by scattering the stumps for a third time.
In reply, it took till the sixth over for England’s first boundary to arrive, Lamb swatting four over midwicket before then flaying the next ball through the covers for another. With that, the floodgates opened and Lamb and Tammy Beaumont raced through to a fifty stand to end the ninth over.
Beaumont (32) was gone soon after, however, edging Inoka Ranaweera’s first ball to slip to open the 11th over, while Lamb (27) perished at mid-off when looking to loft Oshadi Ranasinghe over the top.
Knight (22) fell an over early, gloving one from Dilhari behind to the wicketkeeper – England’s struggles against spin continuing to be exposed somewhat – but six balls later Bouchier confidently steered the hosts to the most comprehensive of victories.
Knight: Gaur bowled some ‘magic balls’
England captain Heather Knight:
“It was nice to get back to winning ways and I thought the bowlers were outstanding.
“Kate Cross was back to her best and supported Mahika, who bowled some magic balls and is a really exciting prospect.
“And Lauren Filer in the middle is a real crowd favourite, she gets everyone up and about.”
Player of the Match, Mahika Gaur, who took 3-26 on ODI debut:
“It was a great day, I really enjoyed myself out there and it was good to get a win as well.
“I have not played much 50-over cricket but I think there is more in it for the bowlers, as the batters are not going as hard at you [as in T20s].
“The main thing I have been told is to keep doing what I am best at, which is trying to swing the ball back in.”
Athapaththu: We didn’t handle the pressure
Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu:
“Today was a tough day in the office. We all knew we needed 250-260 on this wicket.
“Special mention to Mahika and Kate Cross, who bowled really beautifully in the first hour. They bowled really good areas and England took a couple of wickets, so we were already under pressure. We didn’t handle that pressure.
“I think we can bounce back in the next game because I know about my unit, they always have a good, positive mindset.”
The final two games of the women’s ODI series between England and Sri Lanka are at Northampton on Tuesday (12.30pm start) and then Leicester on Thursday (12.30pm start), with both matches live on Sky Sports Cricket.
The men’s ODI series between England and New Zealand continues on Sunday with the second match in Southampton on Tuesday (10.30am start), with the visitors currently leading 1-0. Watch live on Sky Sports Cricket.