After the opening match where 356 runs were scored for the fall of 12 wickets, the second T20I between India and England was a complete contrast as 16 wickets fell for 162 runs at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday. Chasing 81 to win, England had a late wobble but managed to get across the line by four wickets to win the match and seal the series 2-0 in Mumbai.
If the bowling and fielding execution let them down in the first match, it was batting lapses that proved costly in the second as India were bowled out for 80 after being asked to bat first. Renuka Singh Thakur at the start and Deepti Sharma at the backend gave the 25,000+ fans that turned up something to cheer on the night. But the runs on board – combined with the 3.4 overs that India left unused – were never going to be enough to test Heather Knight and Co.
Procession of batters
The tone was set by Charlie Dean, coming back into the England XI after a stomach bug that laid her low for the opening match. In a trend that we’d see repeatedly through India’s batting innings, Shafali Verma played down the wrong line to be trapped plumb in front. Expecting the ball to turn and getting beaten by one that slid on would also be the undoing of Smriti Mandhana, who has struggled against spin in the powerplay in recent times. Dean rocked India with those two early wickets and the hosts never really recovered from there.
Harmanpreet Kaur would soon follow, after hitting Nat Sciver-Brunt for a couple of boundaries. The Indian captain too fell in a familiar manner, as she tends to plant the front foot while going across and trying to access the leg side. The ball just carried in with the angle and she’d be trapped LBW too.
The only bright spot in India’s batting was Jemimah Rodrigues, who saw her teammates come and go. But even the Mumbaikar’s dismissal eventually followed the same pattern as she missed a straight one from Sarah Glenn. It was one of those freak days where India’s top four were all done in by innocuous deliveries that had one thing in common: they were all zoning in on the stumps like heat-seeking missiles.
“Another 30-40 runs could have made a huge difference,” Harmanpreet said after the match. “Proud of my team, we fought till the last run which is good to see. We didn’t give anything to England easily. We always want to play with a positive approach, but unfortunately, some of us didn’t read the ball well. Credit to England, they also bowled well and didn’t allow us to score freely. After losing early wickets we were thinking if we could reach 120 that could have made a difference, but unfortunately we failed while batting.”
India’s only change on the day was bringing in the fit-again Titas Sadhu to bolster the pace options, but that meant the batting was left a little short without the counterpunching skills of Kanika Ahuja. When the going gets tough, England’s mantra has been to hit back and transfer pressure on the bowlers, but India’s lineup didn’t manage that. Deepti Sharma fell, throwing her bat at a wide one, Richa Ghosh was at the receiving end of a stunning return catch from Sophie Ecclestone. The only main batter to fall for an aggressive shot was Pooja Vastrakar.
Something to cheer later on
Defending 81, Renuka had to strike early and after an erratic opening over, she managed to fight back and remove England’s openers with a couple of deliveries that swung. That’s now four wickets – in two bunches of two in one over – for Renuka, who has made a solid return from a lengthy break.
Alice Capsey and Sciver-Brunt hit the boundaries regularly to make sure there wasn’t any pressure building on a tricky pitch. Another highlight for India was a catch for the ages by substitute fielder Amanjot Kaur to dismiss Capsey off Saika Ishaque’s bowling. When India picked up a flurry of late wickets, though, the match was effectively already over.
“I thought it was quite hard for our openers and I thought Renuka bowled really well and the job was to score as many in the powerplay and not lose too many wickets,” Knight said after the match, adding a word of praise for the crowd and quipping that they got their entertainment towards the end.
Head coach Amul Muzumdar’s stint has now gotten off to a less-than-ideal start. The series might have been lost, but when India return to action on Sunday, he must be hoping to see the fearless cricket that he had advocated for. Every match is a learning experience with the T20 World Cup coming up, and India need to come up with a complete performance – one where the batting and bowling both click – within 24 hours.