No skiers in the stands. No ruptured bowling economy rates by way of brutal assaults of the bat either. April 9, 2018, proved to be a dominant ruling of the ball in a contest that has so often remained skewed toward batswomen. And finally, it was the English flag that fluttered with the wind as tourists clawed their way back into the series courtesy a dominant showing by England Women’s team.
India lose their way
In a contest where succeeding was crucial to England’s survival in the series as oxygen for a patient battling for life, the tourists went ahead and dominated as if it were their prerogative. You felt that England had a birthright to win. Giving no chance to Mithali Raj’s India to stay in the game, the hosts having begun the series in a nail-biting finish in first ODI provided no resistance whatsoever to the combined heroics of England women’s, boosted by a career-defining 4-for by young spinner Sophie Ecclestone.
England was back on top and Nagpur was witness to a tumbling show of falling wickets, of the 12 that fell in a single day, 10 of them were India’s.
And perhaps England came back at the most crucial juncture of the 3-match ODI series having lost a final over thriller to India just days before on the same surface.
In what became an entirely one-sided spectacle leading to Heather Knight’s England’s triumph, hosts India were thrashed by a hefty margin of 8 wickets. You know instantly that the day belongs to spinners when 8 of the 10 wickets of a hapless opposition fall to spinners.
Sophie Ecclestone and Danielle Hazell lead England Women’s charge
A slow track assisting spinners, India never really got off to a good start. By the time the 12th over of the inning was bowled, the top order was back in the pavilion- Vaidya for 11, captain Raj for 4 and, vice-captain Harmanpreet for 3, with only Smriti Mandhana holding the fort. Perhaps, in a manner that she’s done repeatedly and particularly throughout the last few series.
On a slow pitch where the ball didn’t come to the bat that well, Hazell and Ecclestone were right on the money, deceiving Indian batswomen with flight and carry.
Mandhana tried hard and fought well, but only well enough to gather 42 off 57, a useful score when you consider all that India managed, in the end, was a jaded 113.
Deepti Sharma tried to battle on, scoring an unbeaten 26, but her resistance would run out of partners. The trio in the lower order- Sushma Verma, Pooja Vastrakar and Poonam Yadav- failed to get going, which affected India’s eventual total.
When she wasn’t bowling, Hazell- who also took a 4-for- contributed through run-outs, affecting Vastrakar’s dismissal for a duck toward the close of the Indian inning.
You know it’s never tough when you’re chasing 114
And it never really was as Wyatt- already in form and scoring runs freely of late- freed her arms and went after Indian spinners and Goswami with measured caution and attack. Perhaps the most important boost that England women’s usurped through was in the comeback of regular ODI captain- Heather Knight, who compiled a watchful, steady 26 off 42.
But the early advantage was given by Wyatt who scored a chunk of her 47 through boundaries in the square and cover region. As compared to England women’s spinners, only Ekta Bisht was able to manage a fight as she scalped two wickets, including that of well set right-handed Wyatt.
In comparison to their counterparts, the trio of Deepti Sharma, Poonam Yadav and Goswami were inept and unable to put a shackle on England’s scoring. Although it was both vital and interesting to find their other opener, Tammy Beaumont stick around for 85 balls in scoring an unbeaten 39.
At times, when the runs are hard to come by, one usually sees batswomen holding on to an end and maybe that’s how it went right for the right-hander. But one wonders, what might’ve been possible had the likes of Kaur and Raj- the two old-guards- followed the same approach.
India can no longer avoid an obvious question
Are they being overly reliant on Smriti Mandhana? Can they afford top and middle order failures, bestowing on Mandhana the task of scoring the bulk of runs? For now, a lively talk in the team’s dugout might offer some solution. After all, with the series tied at 1-1, with another game to go, it’s all to play for at Nagpur.