By Elton Gomes
Reigning ODI (One Day International) World Champions England beat India by eight wickets to enter the final of the ICC Women’s World T20 on Friday. England will take on Australia in the final after Australia demolished hosts West Indies by 71 runs.
After winning the toss, India decided to bat first, and achieved a meagre 112 in 19.3 overs with opener Smriti Mandhana scoring 33 off 24 balls. For England, Kirstie Gordon (2/20), skipper Heather Knight (3/9), and Sophie Ecclestone (2/22) wreaked havoc through the Indian batters. None of the Indian batswomen reached double figures in a match where the seniormost player, Mithali Raj, had been dropped.
Coming in to bat, England easily reached the below-par target in only 17.1 overs. Amy Jones (53 not-out off 45 balls) and Natalie Sciver (52 not-out off 40 balls) added 92 runs for the third wicket to see their team through to the finals.
On a slow pitch, which was getting slower as the day progressed, India looked threatening as opener Smriti Mandhana hit six boundaries in a breezy 34 from 23 balls. But as soon as Jemimah Rodrigues was run-out, India collapsed from 89/2 to 112 all out in less than six overs.
England captain Heather Knight (3-9) could have struck a hat-trick with her part-time off-spin after removing Dayalan Hemalatha and Anuja Patil, but saw herself out of the attack as she allowed Anya Shrubsole to return.
England lost their openers – Tammy Beaumont and Danni Wyatt – rather cheaply, and the outcome could have been different had Poonam Yadav held on to the catch at square leg to dismiss Natalie Sciver for two.
Once Smriti Mandhana (33 off 24 balls), Jemimah Rodriguez (26 off 26 balls), and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (16 off 20 balls) were dismissed, it seemed that India never had had a Plan B. Veda Krishnamurthy looked completely out of form while Deepti Sharma (7 off 10 balls) seemed incapable of hitting big shots.
A poor game sense of being unable to read the pitch contributed to India’s loss as most Indian batswomen charged at the deliveries rather than playing deep inside the crease. Furthermore, India’s all-spin attack, which seemed content to bowl short and wide of off stump, allowed Sciver and Amy Jones to collect singles through a vacant mid-wicket region at will.
Harmanpreet Kaur has “no regrets” for leaving out Mithali Raj
Mithali Raj’s absence from India’s playing XI during their loss against England will certainly be a talking point. However, skipper Harmanpreet Kaur seems unfazed with the decision to exclude Raj. The Indian captain said she has “no regrets” about benching the veteran batter, who has scored more runs than any Indian in the T20 format.
“Whatever we decided, we decided for the team. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, no regrets,” Kaur said at the post-match presentation, as per an NDTV report. “I’m proud of the way my girls played through the tournament. This is a learning for us because we are a young team.”
The Indian skipper further maintained that this edition of the World T20 was another learning curve for her young side. Pointing out the need to focus on mental strength, Kaur said, “I think we are a young team and we still need to work on our mental strength. If we can work on how to play under pressure, that will change how we play these games,” as per the NDTV report.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius