After the absolutely dominating performance from the Southern Stars in the first semi-final against the defending champions, West Indies it was time for another very crucial and exhilarating contest between the Women in Blue and England in the second semi-finals of the World Twenty20 at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium in Antigua. Harmanpreet Kaur the Indian skipper won the toss and elected to bat first in the huge semi-final. What came as a shock to the fans was that India’s most experienced player, Mithali Raj was dropped from the playing XI in such a crucial contest.
The Indian innings was opened by Taniya Bhatia and Smriti Mandhana. The Indian batters were looking good as the opening stand between Mandhana and Bhatia was strengthening the base for the batters to come. But just before the end of the mandatory power play, Mandhana was sent back to the pavilion and seven short of the 50 run opening stand, Ecclestone ensured that the partnership did not go any further. Mandhana was caught and bowled for her 34 off 23 deliveries. In came the young Jemimah Rodrigues along with Taniya on the crease. India managed 43 runs at the loss of the wicket of their top order firepower at the end of the mandatory power play. Taniya Bhatia who looked quite unsettled wince the very beginning was also sent back in the ninth over, trying to drag it into on-side from outside off-stump but ends up getting caught by Sciver off Knight’s bowling. Bhatia looked really unsettled and was struggling since the very beginning, a very wrong shot selection and it was the end of the opener. Rodrigues was joined by the skipper Harmanpreet Kaur in the middle. Jemimah did play a few good shots but her stay on the crease was pretty short as she was run-out in the 14th over as her dive was outplayed by the arms of Beaumont. The Women in blue had 89 runs on the board at the loss of 3 wickets at that point with about six overs remaining. It was well expected that at least they will manage a total of 140-145 runs on the board. But the English pace made it all a struggle. After the dismissal of Rodrigues, the Indian side began to collapse and even the likes of Harmanpreet Kaur failed to take on from there. India kept losing wickets regularly and they just could not accelerate. They managed only a meagre total of 112 runs with the whole team sent back to the pavilion. A score that was very difficult to defend especially when the teams are charged up to the fullest at the semi-final stage. 112-10 in 19.3 overs.
All down to the England chase now! England required only 113 runs at 5.65 RPO.
The whole England innings can be summed up in one word- Dominance. As the chase began, England’s inning was opened by Wyatt and Beaumont. India got their very first wicket in the second over itself sending Tammy Beaumont back to the dugout for just 1 run off 3 deliveries. It was Radha Yadav who came with the wicket as Tammy was caught by Arundhati Reddy at short midwicket. Soon, even Wyatt was sent back in the 5th over by Deepti Sharma caught by Rodrigues at the boundary. One of the most important wickets for the Indians and they were elated. Little did they know this was all they would be getting! A couple of quick wickets but then it were all hands down to Amy Jones and Nat Sciver. The two batters ran away with the game in no time reaching their individual half centuries and how! England chased down the score with 17 deliveries to spare. England marching into the Finals!
The very first mistake made by the Indians was to drop Mithali in such a crucial match who is in some great form too. Then trying to rush things and just hitting over the ropes, they kept losing wickets in quick succession and the partnerships just could not be built. After the good opening stand, it was all about spending some time in the middle, understanding the conditions and building the total maturely. Having 43 runs on the board in six overs and then ending the innings with just 112 on the board was really disappointing. The likes of Mandhana, Kaur were put to test by the pace attack of England. They had struggled against the pace and England did just everything correct. Spontaneous on the field and great captaincy by Knight who made sure the bowling combinations did not let the Indians settle and they make mistakes under pressure and that is what happened. Chasing down 113 was never a massive task but again the Indians lacked the spirit to fight. The field placement was way too defensive and allowed the batters to go for singles and doubles at almost every delivery. The spin attack of India which is also their strength just could not do it this time but what was shocking and equally disappointing was that pace was not even considered. The attitude on the field was way too loose and trying something different to get the breakthroughs was just not visible which also made the bowling side way too predictable. In a chase where one does not have much to defend, misfields will be the last thing to be entertained. Catches dropped, runs leaked and it was doing nothing but making the chase look even easier for the England women.
The Indians were looking as if they had already given up even before the chase began. The attitude on the field reflected it all. Continuous singles and the field setting was not even considered for changes. When the field should have been more attacking to stop those singles and build that pressure, it was just not done and in no time England ran away with the game. The English batters played really maturely taking those singles and attacking the short deliveries bowled by the spinners which almost came every delivery. Building partnerships, playing maturely and building the score would have actually helped the Indians to put up a competitive total. Also, the bowling and fielding changes could have changed things completely. Batters need to take up responsibility and the team needs to learn playing under pressure. So there came the end of India in this tourney, not a great match to remember after being such a good side in the matches before. However, a young team they are and learning is what matters the most.
The Aussies and England women have stormed into the finals to be played on 25th November at 5:30 am IST at Antigua.
Team Female Cricket wishes both the team all the very best for the finals, May the best team win!
The 22 Yard stretch that molded me, is what I hold sacred. A cricketer weaving life’s innings into words. A Rohit Sharma Admirer always. I believe writing and cricket aren’t passions, but ways of life, so truly living the dream! 😉