After having won the first two T20I games against India, England clinched a nail-biting 1-run win in the third and final game at Guwahati.
From restricted England within a below par to Smriti Mandhana’s half-century and Kate Cross’ final over, the game saw plenty of things.
Here are the three talking points from the game
Clinical performance by India spinners
Having won the toss and elected to bat first, England openers Danielle Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont gave a flying start. From hitting a huge maximum in the second over off Deepti Sharma to hitting back to back boundaries off Shikha Pandey in the very next over, both the batters started hitting all over the park. Their stormy innings helped them to put up 42 runs within the powerplay.
To stop the run flow, captain Smriti Mandhana brought back Anuja Patil in the 8th over; who was playing her first match in the series and conceded only three runs in her first over. The decision became fruitful as her second delivery picked up Danielle Wyatt. It was wide outside off, Wyatt tried to hit but landed in the short third man where Poonam Yadav was standing. The first breakthrough came for India in the form of her dismissal.
Next was Natalie Sciver; who got bowled by Poonam Yadav in the very next over. Sciver had a rather forgettable T20I series as she went for a six-ball duck. Anuja Patil struck again and picked up Beaumont in the next over and England were soon reduced to 54-3 after 10 overs.
From that onwards, England were never looked in control and wickets started falling at regular interval. Due to some brilliant spells from the spinners, England were restricted within 119-6 after 20 overs.
Smriti Mandhana’s blitzy half-century
After having restricted England within a below-par total of 119, India too tried to get a flying start but opener Harleen Deol couldn’t stay long as she fell for 1 in the second over to Shrubsole. Her dismissal brought Jemimah Rodrigues in the crease. But her struggle continued as she scored mere 11 off 22.
However, Mandhana was there at the other end. After getting dismissed very early in the first two games, she played a captain’s knock in the third game. She has troubled every bowler by hitting boundaries. When Rodrigues got dismissed she was on 39 and India were 59-2. That time India needed a partnership to win the game.
Mandhana got the partner in the form of veteran Mithali Raj; who is best known for her ability to anchor the innings. Both started building a stable partnership. While Mandhana as a set batter, took the charge, Mithali supported her brilliantly. In the 11th over, Mandhana completed her ninth T20I half-century in 32 balls.
Both the batters were looking comfortable in the middle. But England were looking for a wicket so that India’s run-chase becomes slow. Laura Marsh was successful to break the partnership as she picked up dangerous Smriti Mandhana for 58. It was a flatter delivery around off and Mandhana was looking to hit towards third man but the ball went straight and took the inside edge and hit the stumps. Mandhana’s 39-ball 58 included 8 boundaries and a six.
When she got dismissed, India needed 33 runs to win in 7 overs. It was an easy job for India as the experienced Mithali Raj was at the crease and India had some other batters as well who were able to get past the line.
The final over
It says that the penultimate over of an innings is more important than the final over. But here, the last over made all the difference. India needed 18 runs in last three over. Natalie Sciver came for the 18th over. Mithali Raj was on the strike, hit the boundary towards the third man on the first delivery and another on the fifth delivery towards point region. That took off the pressure off from the inexperienced Bharati Fulmali. Mithali Raj hit a boundary over the cover in the next over and India were needed only 3 runs in the final over.
To conceded mere 3 runs, England captain Heather Knight took the responsibility to Kate Cross; who didn’t get any wickets before in the game. Fulmali wasn’t able to rotate the strike on the first three deliveries. Kate Cross was so accurate in her line and length and Fulmali couldn’t handle the pressure.
She hit the fourth ball direct to the mid-off player and got dismissed for 5. Anuja Patil came in. It was not difficult for her as she is known as ‘T20 specialist’. But she missed the line and got stumped in the fifth ball. Shikha Pandey faced the final delivery and managed to score only one run and England claimed a scintillating 1-run win in the final encounter.
On the other end, Mithali Raj was standing helplessly. She was timing the ball well but didn’t get a chance to face a single ball in the last over. Kate Cross bowled an exceptional over and England managed to restrict within 118.
Also Read: Mandhana is India’s overseas hero