Catches Win Matches they say, but there has nonetheless been some debate recently in The Other Game™ over whether fielding actually matters, in what we are soon going to have to start not calling the “shortest format”; and on the evidence of today… it maybe doesn’t!
After winning the toss and electing to put England in, India could have had them 4 or 5 down for not-very-many. But Harmanpreet let one through her hands at mid off; Jemimah made a total hash of what should have been a dolly on the boundary, which ended up going for six; before Veda dived short of one at mid on, which was not an “easy” chance, but still one a top professional really ought to be taking.
Even putting the catches aside, India’s fielding wasn’t at its best – they let a few shots slip the ring that should have been cut off; and they lost some chases that they ought to have won in the outfield too.
In contrast, England were generally sharper. It might have been 40 degrees, with smoke from the bush fires still hanging in the air, but they caught more of their catches, cut off more of those shots on the ring, and won more of those chases in the outfield.
And yet it was India that won the game.
It wasn’t down to any one outstanding effort either – though she was India’s top scorer, this was no “Derby 2017” from Harmanpreet, as the fact that the adjudicators ended up giving the Player of the Match to someone on the losing side (Heather Knight) attests.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad did bowl really well up-top – she had Amy Jones cramped for style from ball one, and before the first over was through the England keeper was walking back to the dugout, caught meekly at mid off, trying to go inside out, but only succeeding with the “out” bit.
Gayakwad finished with a Kapp-esque Economy Rate of 4.75 off her 4 overs, which none of the England bowlers got close to – Ecclestone being their meanest, at 6 runs per over. Gayakwad didn’t play a single T20 for India in 2019, though she played a few ODIs, but she is already looking like she could be an important part of India’s challenge for T20 World Cup glory next month in Aus.
As for England, they will take the positives of good knocks from Knight and Tammy Beaumont into tomorrow’s game against Australia; when we might see Freya Davies take the ball, after Anya Shrubsole left the field early today, presumably injured. (The TV commentators didn’t seem to mention it* so we aren’t 100% certain, but Mady Villiers spent most of the game on as sub, and Shrubsole seemed to disappear after the 5th over.)
But England will need a much better performance tomorrow if they are to square-up to the Aussies, who won’t give any quarter with bat or ball. This was always going to be a tough Tri-Series to win between the top 3 sides in the world… but it just got a bit tougher for England after today.
* Apologies if they did and we missed it.