India got a win on the board at last, to keep this multi-format series alive, and it was all thanks to… no, not Mithali’s 75 off 86 balls; but Sneh Rana’s 22 off 24.
Of course Mithali will get the plaudits on so many levels – passing 50 for the 3rd time in the series, this time with a significantly improved Strike Rate – 87, compared with 67 and 64 in the 1st and 2nd ODIs – and in doing so, overtaking Charlotte Edwards as the leading international run-scorer of all time. Mithali was (rightly) named Player of the Match.
But let’s rewind to the dismissal of Deepti Sharma in the 40th over. India still needed 56 in 7 overs, at a run-rate of exactly 8, having gone at just over 4 across the innings. It didn’t look hopeful. Mithali herself was still on a Strike Rate of 69 at that point – not enough to win the game from there.
But Rana came to the crease and immediately injected a an extra yard of urgency into proceedings. Rana played fearless cricket, attacking the best England had to throw at her, and Mithali responded too, upping her Strike Rate to match Rana. By the time Rana was dismissed, for 22 off 24 balls, the edge had turned in India’s favour, with 6 required off the final over.
The decision to throw Katherine Brunt the ball for that final over was an “interesting” one – she can be expensive at the death – for example conceding 18 runs in her final over in the 2nd ODI at Taunton – and only Ecclestone was “bowled out”, so other options were available. But the truth is probably that it was over by that point anyway. With the experience of Mithali and Jhulan at the crease, India were firm favourites to make 6 off the last 6 balls, and in fact they only needed 3 balls to get over the line.
It was all a far cry from the equivalent fixture here 5 years ago, when England thrashed Pakistan by 212 runs, thanks to centuries from Lauren Winfield-Hill and Tammy Beaumont. England hit 50 boundaries that day, with the rope pulled in as tight as was permitted under the regulations. Today, on a larger outfield, they managed just 20, and at one point went 16 overs without finding the rope. But they ran hard between the wickets, as they always do, and denied the Indians a single maiden. It got them to 219 – almost enough… but not quite, thanks to La Princesa Rana.
I was thinking the same thing when I saw Brunt was on to bowl the final over. It’s like they were following a preconceived plan and not playing to the situation. That wasn’t the only decision that baffled me. The Nat Sciver overs nearing the end also had me a bit confused. They were trying to pick up wickets but also stop the flow of runs so why didn’t they go for Heather or even Glenn. It’s a slow surface, why not take the pace off the ball, bowl tight and allow the batters to generate their own power seeing that a few English batters got out trying to the hit the Indian spinners over the top.
Regardless good win for India, they had us on the edge of our seats straight up to the end for this one. 6-4 lead for England so far, anything can happen in 20 over cricket, bring on the T20s!
I was at the WACA in February last year when Brunt bowled the final over of the ENG v SAF WT20I match to Mignon du Preez. England lost that match, too, and was also effectively knocked out of the tournament. To achieve the same result in this series as a consequence of the outcome of this match, India would have to win all three of the WT20Is. I think that’s a tall order, especially as India is now effectively going to drop its best batter.
Meanwhile, is Crickether going to cover next week’s WT20I series in Krefeld between GER and FRA???
On the whole I’ m pleased that England won the ODI series and played pretty well overall. It was always likely that India would come back at some point. Taking a 6-4 lead into the T20i leg sets the multi-format series up well for a good finish, where India might have to try something a bit different as Raj won’t be able to occupy the middle like she has in the ODIs. We’ve seen some good, tense matches and some great individual performances on both sides.
On the flipside, I’m a somewhat frustrated England cricket fan this morning, as I think we could and maybe should have won that – and some overly conservative decisions cost us. I think England need to try some different death bowling options as it’s not really working with Brunt at the moment. She’s batting and fielding quite well but just spraying it round too much with the ball. Ideally we would have played Farrant and/or Davies in this match and given them and Cross the duty of bowling at the end I think. Also I don’t understand why Glenn had an economy of only 3.7 and yet only bowled 7 overs. The fields weren’t brought in enough at the end, and there were just a few sloppy aspects to England’s performance that soured it all a bit.
India were a bit too defensive again I thought, and basically bored several of England’s batters into giving away their wickets. It was one of those annoying matches where the batters seemed to get out as soon as they tried to expand their game. They didn’t exactly die wondering, but did England suffer from a bit of a lack of innovation from the batters? We played many good shots for one down the ground, and hit the fielders an awful lot. Losing Beaumont early didn’t help, but we didn’t see quite as many scoops, ramps and especially sweeps as I was expecting. The lack of pace maybe explains the first 2 but not the third. It’s not often I’ve seen that from England.
A 6-4 multi-format scoreline flatters India somewhat (in my opinion), but they have a real chance to take the overall series now as anything can happen in T20, as we know. England can prevent that with one T20i win and they’ll be looking and needing to get that sooner rather than later.
I was actually thinking the same thing. India wasn’t afraid to use their spin. It seems as if England came in with a preconceived bowling plan and stuck to it even though the situation demanded something different. Cross and Glenn had overs remaining but Sciver and Brunt who were leaking runs bowled instead…Needless to say I was very confused. Brunt at the death hasn’t worked in a while so I think it may be time for a change. The first match wasn’t really close but in the other two when things were much closer she hasn’t risen to the occasion.
I was sort of glad we lost the toss as that seems to be the only way to see England bat first in ODIs.. England have got to practice those skills needed when being chased. Everybody loves to chase and we’re not always going to win the toss, so it would be great to get some bat-first wins under the belt before World Cup. Setting a good total, holding your nerve and concentration as a fielding unit, choking the middle overs and striking at the start and death. It looked like England had done a decent job defending a low total till it all flipped at the end there. Panic stations in the field and very leaky bowling. If England are working on some sort of death-overs plans featuring Brunt they clearly aren’t working. It was interesting to watch England bat and struggle with the pitch as well, most of them make a start, then get out in the same way more or less. India didn’t seem to do anything extra special rather than be patient and disciplined which worked! The 219 total seemed pretty reasonable in the end given it looked like England were battling through warm treacle. Anyway, I think this loss comes at a good time, hopefully this rattling will force some issues up the priority list.
Side note – It was quite a sight to watch Freya bounding on an off like a gazelle with the drinks, seemed to be running more than the playing 11! Hope we get to see her and Tash doing some bowling soon. Thanks be to the weather Gods too.
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What’s your thought on player of the series? I thought if an England player was to take it, it should’ve been Kate Cross. She was the most consistent seam bowler and took a wicket every time she was introduced into the attack. Ecclestone bowled well, but it didn’t leave quite the same mark, to me anyway.
For India, Mithali was clearly their best player. After the game, the interviewer asked her about how she went about her innings and she said she knew she had to be their to guide the younger, more inexperienced players home so she had to be smart about how she played. I think that’s something the English captain and vice-captain should take into consideration since they often gave away their wicket quite cheaply or early in the innings. After Nat Sciver, comes Amy Jones and so far she hasn’t showed much form with the bat – often getting out cheaply but after racking up a lot of dots, which is not ideal.
I also think England’s seam lineup needs a bit of spontaneity. Cross has been the only consistent one and the others I feel blow hot and cold… but that’s an argument for another day.
We discussed the player of the series in today’s Vodcast – including how the decision was made – you might find it interesting. Syd
I can’t agree with Raf’s comments about Raj. She led India to a draw in which India came off very second best, and then two losses, and only finally a win in what for her (and the three WODIs) was a dead rubber. On the other hand, Raf is absolutely right about Cross. I would have had Cross bowl the death over instead of Brunt.
As for the Australians, Raf was correct as far as she went, but there was more that should be said.
In the last five years, there has been an explosion of interest in women’s professional sport in Australia. The top tier women cricketers have been at the forefront of that, and are now very well paid indeed. The only surprising thing, really, is that one of them, Perry, is still going to be playing in the Hundred.
None of those players would have wanted to live in an English bubble and then endure two weeks back at home in quarantine. All of them would rather devote their attention to a forthcoming season that will be beginning unusually early, with a series against a well warmed up Indian team and featuring a WACA Test match they will be very keen to win. They will also all be even more keen to win the World Cup in NZ later in the season, to avenge the 171* loss in 2017. Playing in the Hundred is something they could probably all do in 2022.
Is that really a problem for the Hundred in 2021? I don’t think so.
The top tier Aussies (except Perry) have been replaced with a combination of top tier South Africans and second tier Aussies. The latter group includes a number of players with international experience, and some crowd pleasers with plenty of domestic experience in the WBBL. My favourite of the latter group of Aussies is Redmayne, who would very likely have played for Australia if Healy had ever been injured. So the Hundred should still be a very good series.