MATCH REPORT : India v England

from Snehal Pradhan at Derby

Any confidence that England would have gained thanks to the cloudy conditions, and winning the toss and putting India in, would have evaporated once India started batting.

Smriti Mandhana pulled her first ball for four as if she had grown up on county wickets. In the next over she punched a short ball through the covers for four. The following ten overs seemed to be a replay of those two shots stuck on repeat, as Katherine Brunt kept bowling short.

Raut played four sedate overs at the other end, but when the batters finally changed ends in the ninth over, Mandhana greeted the first ball she played off Anya Shrubsole with another pull to deep midwicket.

She and Raut motored along to 113 unbeaten till the 23rd over, when - out of nowhere - they took the batting power play, forcing Anya Shrubsole to come back into the attack. Her first ball was carted for six by Mandhana, and she and Raut took 20 runs from the over. Although Mandhana fell 10 short of a century in her first World Cup game, she had more than set the tone. 

After that, Mithali Raj and Raut batted much like they would in a 20 over game without the six over powerplay. Consolidation, and then gradual and controlled combustion.  

They scored at 5.7 RPO till the 40th over, with Raut, out for 86 off 134 balls, benefiting from three dropped catches. Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur then took 74 runs off the last 10 overs. Raj, favouring the mid wicket region, batted till the last ball, dismissed for a silky 71 off 73, having claimed the world record for most consecutive fifties (seven), as well as most half centuries overall (47).

The occasion was supposed to get to India, instead it seemed to get to England. But after a sluggish start – they were 75 for 2 in the first 20 overs - captain Heather Knight started to express herself, and was matched shot for shot by Fran Wilson, who only played because of an injury to England’s regular opener, Lauren Winfield. Even after Knight fell for 39, Wilson used switch hits and regular sweeps to good effect to disrupt India’s bowling plans. In the powerplay, she almost single handedly took 47 runs in those five overs, and nearly brought England’s asking rate down from eight to a run a ball.

This was where India were both brilliantly good and horribly bad. India’s fielding had started off on a sour note, with Deepti Sharma spilling a tough diving chance at short fine leg in the second over. In between some brilliant diving stops and ground fielding, India missed a stumping, and there were two dropped catches in the outfield towards the end of the game. But the game also swung back towards India in the field.


Knight was done in by a direct hit from Harmanpreet Kaur, who quickly got the ball off her own bowling. And when Wilson and Brunt put on 62 for the sixth wicket, Deepti Sharma threw down the stumps from point to send Brunt back. Later, Mona Meshram at square leg ensured a suicidal run remained exactly that. But in between those two came the turning point: Wilson’s dismissal. Ekta Bisht collected a straight drive and flicked the ball on to the stumps at the bowler's end. Wilson dived but her bat bounced up, and she had to walk back for 81 off 75. That was the end of the English challenge, and India registered a 35 run win.

Comments

  1. I'm glad you've given India the credit they deserve and not just blamed England's batting. To be fair to England it was a hugely impressive all-round performance from India. To me the take-home narrative of the game was not "oh no another batting collapse from England" but rather "Poor bowling and catching from England (and great batting from India) meant they faced a much more difficult chase than they might have, which was so tough it would have set records if they'd made it". The sad "batting collapse" meme reveals nothing new, nor particularly interesting, and merely obscures the true root cause of the defeat. It's frustrating to hear this narrative from media outlets such as the BBC.

    Thing is, you can't expect to go for 144 runs or into the 27th over before taking a wicket and expect to win many matches. It's been a similar story for a while now against the top teams, the lack of early wickets means we need to do the "unthinkable" and question whether Brunt and Shrubsole really are always the best opening bowling options. Today they both bowled a good over or two each but overall, hardly had a great day at the office. And sorry but 13 overs out of 20 from your "best" two bowlers simply means they are actually not your best two bowlers.

    Brunt's batting seals her place almost irrespective of her bowling, but if Anya is only bowling 6 overs would we be better off with Marsh? There are so many questions England need to answer in the light of what was a puzzling performance in the field; and the somewhat frustrating batting display simply adds more, surrounding the selection and planning strategy. England looked underdone today. It raises questions about the preparations, to me. Should we be trying Langston in the side, and maybe Tash Farrant should be in the team and opening the bowling alongside her? And should the spinners be coming on earlier?

    India triumphed in their tactics, plans and captaincy. Raj's side looked more flexible and were not often enough forced to make unwanted changes, and it looked like they were always in control. They were ahead of the game. Taking the early powerplay was an example of this. England looked completely unprepared for it and Shrubsole's following over was a disaster. In contrast, England's changes were too reactive and we never got into a position where we could settle into a firm plan since India had so many wickets in hand, or we'd lost too many wickets and were behind the run-rate.

    The first decision reviews were taken by India. England used none, in a bowling innings in which they were desperate for wickets. It was almost as if England weren't aware they had decision reviews available - there were a couple of LBW decisions we could have definitely tried testing the video umpire on. Surely not though... regardless, England also need to do some overdue homework on how to bat against Deepti Sharma and (excluding Fran Wilson) how to bat against Shikha Pandey; and how to bowl to Mandhana, Raut and Raj.

    England need to quickly take on board their learnings and move on from this match on Tuesday, looking to recreate the dominance they showed over Pakistan last year. Surely nothing less than a comfortable victory will settle the nerves. The alternative must seem unconscionable to any England fan.

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    1. Thank you, both to the blogger and the commenter! Very informative analyses! I'm glad to have found this blog!

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  2. A frustrating day for sure watching that. Watching England women fail is so much more frustrating than watching England men lose as you know the women's team are so much better funded than all the other teams bar Australia. The shocking thing yesterday was just how many runs India scored - we may be used to England's brittle batting but the bowling is usually better than that for sure. Brunt and Shrubsole can I guess be excused the odd off day, but I find the continuing problem with fielding a puzzle. They are full-time players and should have the time to practise sufficiently to eliminate these basic mistakes? At all levels of women's cricket in England fielders seem to be especially weak under the high ball, but these weaknesses even extend to the full-time national team - see Beaumont's embarassing episode of flapping when a chance came her way. Once we were chasing 282, the batsmen seemed to have no idea how to go about it, scoring at just 4 per over for the first half of the reply. The spate of run outs was simply a case of not having any answers as to how to chase down that total, and choosing to go for unduly risky runs as a consequence.

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