Derby: India women's cricket team skipper Mithali Raj credited the openers Smriti Mandhana and Poonam Raut for setting up their comfortable 35-run win over England in the ICC World Cup.
Put into bat, Smriti Mandhana struck a sizzling 90 off 72 balls in a dominating batting display as India posted an imposing 281 for three after being asked to bat.
Mandhana forged a 144-run opening wicket stand with Poonam Raut (86 off 134) before skipper Mithali Raj (71 not out) completed an unprecedented seventh consecutive half century in ODIs.
India then dismissed England for 246 in 47.3 overs to notch up a 35-run win.
"It's important you get a good start, it was a brilliant partnership from the openers, so we knew we could post a score of 250 plus. I realised the wicket didn't assist the bowlers but the spinners bowled in the right areas," Mithali said after the match.
She said they took the batting Powerplay early as the openers were going great.
"Both batters were hitting the ball well, getting boundaries every over, so we decided to take the Powerplay while they were set," she said.
Talking about her injury, Player of the Match Smriti Mandhana, who scored a 72-ball 90, said: "It's not the knee, it's the hamstring, so should be okay [for the next match].
"I think I enjoyed batting with Poonam. We were both at the right ends, facing inswingers, and had a very good partnership, hopefully we can continue going forward.
"The last five and a half months have been tough but the team physios were incredible in making me [fit to] play."
England skipper Heather Knight blamed the bowlers for their loss against India.
"We thought it would do a bit more but to be honest we didn't put it in the right areas, didn't hit our lines and lengths and made it easier for them. We bowled too short and let them get away," she said.
"We pulled it back in the middle, backed ourselves to chase that score but lost a few too many wickets and struggled. I thought we were in the game throughout, we got a couple of partnerships going, definitely when Fran and Katherine were going we were confident.
"It was a brilliant match, credit to India, they outplayed us. Nice to give a good game but disappointing to lose.