England will be bitterly disappointed to have lost the ODI series out in India, having gone 2-0 down with one match to play. Having spoken to a couple of the players shortly before they left for India, including Heather Knight, whilst they didn’t underestimate India, they genuinely believed this was a series they could win.
England were even handed a bonus “Get Out Of Jail Free” card via the absence of Harmanpreet Kaur through injury, but they haven’t been able to capitalise as their batting has failed on both occasions.
This is an experienced batting line-up – England’s top 6 in the 2nd ODI debuted (on average) in 2010, with the most recent debuts in 2013. There are a lot of caps on those heads, but only Nat Sciver has come out and batted like it. Sure, there have been glimpses of the class we know these players have – Tammy Beaumont played a couple of glorious strokes in the 2nd ODI, but the only one anyone will remember is the horrendous slog-sweep she got out to!
Heather Knight played a fighting innings in the 1st ODI, but was out carelessly in the 2nd, underestimating the weight of a delivery from Jhulan Goswami and bunting a catch to extra cover. Sarah Taylor also misjudged the same bowler – there’s nothing necessarily wrong with driving at a ball half a mile outside off stump without moving your feet… but you better make sure you middle it if you do – Taylor didn’t, and it came off a thick edge to take out her stumps!
Overall, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that England batted poorly, more than India bowled especially well – there should be no excuses for this, and you can be sure that in the dressing-room there won’t be – both Mark Robinson and Heather Knight will see to that.
So with one ODI to play the series is lost, but there are still two ICC Championship points to play for, so England need to pick themselves up and go again on Thursday. Although they are currently 7th in the points table, the schedule is to their advantage, with Sri Lanka, Pakistan and West Indies at home still to play, so there is no need to hit the panic button, especially remembering that 4 teams plus New Zealand qualify automatically for the World Cup. But nonetheless, a couple of points on Thursday would give them some extra breathing room during the run-in.
All England need to do in these conditions is take a lesson from their opponents – there are no demons in these pitches, but there aren’t that many runs either – just keep calm and try to get a 4-an-over total of around 200 on the board by playing sensible cricket – basically, exactly what they did (and India didn’t) in the World Twenty20 semi-final just a few short months ago!