FINAL MATCH REPORT : England v India

I have written and re-written this piece so many times in the last 40 minutes that it is ridiculous. The reason is that this game has have ebbed and flowed so much before England finally come out on top by just nine runs with eight balls left.

Every game has turning points, but this one has had so many. As India chased down 229 to win the World Cup the first was the lackadaisical run out of Mithali Raj in the 13th over as Nat Sciver swooped in from cover. It reduced India to 43/2 in the 13th over and it meant that India's talisman was on her way back through the Long Room. England were on top.

But Punam Raut (86) and Harmanpreet Kaur (51) showed that there will be life in the India team when Raj decides to hang up her spikes. They built nicely, and hit boundaries when they needed them, and took India ahead of the Duckworth Lewis score as they got to the 25th over. The game looked to be going away from England, but the return of Alex Hartley saw Kaur make the fatal mistake - another turning point - she swept the ball down to Tammy Beaumont at deep square to depart.

But India were not going to fold while Raut, and the young and confident Veda Krishnamurthy, were at the crease. It was Krishnamurthy who was the aggressor hitting boundaries straight and over extra cover. A rare missed stumping by Sarah Taylor as Raut came down to Laura Marsh seemed to be another turning point. The game was now India's to lose it seemed.

As the 42nd over started, with Shrubsole thrown the ball, India were on 182/3 - they needed 46 off the last eight overs with seven wickets still in the shed. Consecutive 4s made the equation even easier, but then Punam Raut played across the line to a straight ball and was out lbw. 191/4.

Next over Hartley accounted for new bat Sushma Verma and the Indian bench were beginning to get jittery. Over 45 was Shrubsole's. Time for another turning point. Krishnamurthy (35) skied the first ball unnecessarily to Sciver at midwicket - 200/7. Jhulan Goswami, in her last World Cup appearance, strolled to the wicket. She is an accomplished bat, but the leg stump yorker that Shrubsole served up to her was unplayable. She was gone - 201/7.

Deepti Sharma (14) and Shikha Pandey (4) ran some suicidal singles and England looked rattled. The game had swung again. After 47 overs India were 215/7 - they needed 13 off the last three overs. Pandey hit the ball to Shrubsole at cover and set off. There was no run there and she was sent back. The throw was short of the stumps, but Taylor reached for it and twisted back to the stumps to complete the run out.

Two overs to go. But now England felt in control. With Shrubsole in charge it seemed inevitable. A wicket first ball of the 49th over seemed to ensure the win. Jenny Gunn dropped a sitter third ball, but Shrubsole saved her blushes as she produced another yorker to remove Gayakwad and set off jubilant scenes. She finished with the magnificent figures of 6/46.

England's innings had never really found a solid footing, in fact at 63/3 England looked to be in a tough spot. Lauren Winfield's tough tournament continued, once again falling in the 20s, with England on 47, and then Tammy Beaumont spooned a Yadav full toss to deep midwicket to end her day on 23 and her tournament on 410 runs (leading run scorer and Player of the Tournament). As the teams returned from the first drinks break skipper Knight was the third to fall attempting to sweep Yadav and adjudged lbw.

England were in a pickle, but looking at the demeanor of Sarah Taylor and Nat Sciver you would not have known it. They smiled and joked their way through to a partnership of 83 off 101 balls, despite Taylor never finding the boundary in her 45 runs. Both looked to be in control until Taylor flicked at an innocuous ball from Jhulan Goswami down the legside, which went through to the keeper. There was a half-hearted appeal and umpire George seemed unimpressed, but after some further thought gave it out caught behind. Taylor left, possibly to the odd chirp from the Indians. It brought Fran Wilson to the crease, but one ball later she was on her way back, another lbw victim to a ball that would have just clipped leg stump.

It seemed vital to England's chances that Sciver now continued her innings. She reached her 50 off 65 balls to take England to 164/5, but then played across a full straght ball from Goswami, and was another given lbw. She reviewed more in hope than expectation. It was a forlorn hope.

For a while the bustling Katherine Brunt (34) and the languid Jenny Gunn (25*) looked to be guiding England to a score of 250, but again boundaries were tough to find. Brunt was run out by a direct from Sharma at extra cover. Gunn and Laura Marsh (14*) added 29 in the last four overs, and England finished on 228/7. It looked like it might just be enough. It was......just.

Comments

  1. This match was absolutely incredible and the journey England have been on this summer, simply unforgettable. It was a pleasure to follow. The team's character and fighting spirit were what saved them on many an occasion and the final was the best example of that. Is till can't believe they won after a largely subdued batting performance with so few boundaries. India bowled and fielded well, but England never really unleashed in the way they would have wanted. 228 should not have been a winning score and by all my days it very nearly wasn't!

    As for Robinson, what a job he's done, talk about being ahead of schedule with the team's development! I love the way he always sounds so enthused with the team's abilities – he has always said they've had that extra special something and so it's proved.

    So many little key events punctuate the big stories, like the wonderful innings from Raut, Kaur and Sciver; and Goswami's and Shrubsole's magnificent bowling.

    Katherine Brunt played what I though was a brilliant little innings, she was much improved after she was guilty of trying to overhit the ball against South Africa in the semi. And Alex Hartley's bowling was also impressive, although she went for a few more runs than she'd have liked this time, her 2 wickets were absolutely vital and came at the perfect moments for England. The focus and nerve of Sciver holding onto those 2 skied hits near the end. And Taylor's stumping, the stumping-that-never-was-but-should-have-been, was a classic example of her phenomenal wicketkeeping skill. The brutal hitting of Krishnamurthy when England were down and nearly out; the composure of Deepti Sharma whilst all around her was crumbling... the list goes on and on.

    The atmosphere was electric from start to finish and I met a couple of people who said this was one of the best cricket matches they had ever attended. It was the friendliest Lord's ambience I have ever experienced.

    Overall England's batting and bowling fluctuated a bit at times and they were far from perfect – but that's the way these competitions tend to go. The main factors I think that set the England team apart from the rest were their self-belief, strength of the lower batting order, and fighting spirit. This team simply do not know when they are beaten, and that's a happy realisation to lack.

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