After losing to India last weekend in Canberra, England got their revenge in today’s rematch at the Junction Oval in Melbourne, with a 4 wicket win, despite never really getting out of second gear.
England are now in pole position in the Tri-Series. If Australia beat India tomorrow then the final group match – England v Australia on Sunday – will become academic in terms of qualification for the final next Wednesday – England and Australia will be through.
However, India aren’t out of it yet, and if they can mug the Aussies tomorrow then they could still make the final, with a 3-way tie also being a possibility if Australia then go on to beat England.
So Net Run Rate could be critical, which may mean England live to regret their lack of aggression in today’s chase, with Nat Sciver the only batsman in England’s line-up to post a Strike Rate of over 100. (Though Brunt, Beaumont and Winfield all struck at exactly 100.)
Tammy Beaumont, who has played at this ground a fair few times in WBBL, said on Player Mic that England reckoned 150-160 – around 7-8 runs per over – would be a par score today; but India ended up only just scraping past 120 thanks to a big final over in which Deepti Sharma and Arundhati Reddy socked Anya Shrubsole for 15 runs, somewhat ruining Shrubsole’s figures in the process, though she still got player of the match for her 3 wickets.
Part of the responsibility for India’s lowly total must lie with Harmanpreet, who chewed-up 23 balls for 14 runs, which you just can’t afford to do at this level; though perhaps India’s real problem is a lack of confidence in their lower order, meaning Harmanpreet feels that staying there is almost equally as important as scoring runs, especially as she backs herself to pick up her strike rate later in the innings.
Whatever the case it didn’t come off for India today, and their sub-par total probably influenced England’s approach, especially after they lost early wickets – they knew that they didn’t actually need to hit fifth gear… or even third as it turned out… to win the game, so they were generally happy to chug along at just over 6 an over, rather than motoring at 7 or 8.
Could they have scored more quickly? You’d certainly hope so! It is true that a win is a win, and I don’t think there will be too many tears if they don’t make the Tri-Series final on Net Run Rate – that’s really not what they are in Australia for.
But the other side of today’s coin is that if you can’t throw off your conservative shackles in a series which doesn’t much matter, how do you expect to do it in a World Cup final? That’s the $64,000 question which England may have to answer back in Melbourne in a month’s time.