A DLS result always feels like a bit of an anti-climax – the margin of victory for ever qualified as:
England win by 18 runs… (brackets) DLS.
But England should be pretty happy with their night’s work in Northampton.
The night took us back to England’s previous visit to this ground, for two matches versus the West Indies in June 2019 – in one of those games, England struck 180-6; the other was rained off without a ball being bowled.
Tonight was England’s highest T20 score batting first at home since that match against the Windies in 2019. Then, it was Danni Wyatt in the runs; tonight it was Nat Sciver’s turn to dominate, hitting 55 off 27 balls – the fourth time she has completed an international T20 innings of 20 or more with a Strike Rate over 200. Everyone will have their own highlights, but a back-foot pull off Poonam in the 9th over was the shot of the day for me – she’d only just come in, but it was a shot of effortless confidence, as if she’d been at the crease all day.
Later on she went full metal jacket on Arundhati Reddy, nearly taking her head off with the first of three consecutive 4s back past the luckless bowler, whose main crime seemed to be turning up to a gun-fight armed with only a cricket ball.
Her rampage was only ended by a brilliant catch from Harmanpreet, who may be averaging just 8 runs in the cross-format series so far, but still has a flare for the champagne moment… or would have done if Harleen Deol hadn’t then taken one of the greatest catches off all time to do for Amy Jones.
There were some doubts on social media as to the legality of Harleen’s catch, but this ruling is essentially as official as it gets:
(For those who don’t know Jonny, his official title is “Laws of Cricket Advisor” at the MCC, but we prefer to think of him as basically Judge Dredd – when it comes to cricket… HE IS THE LAW!)
Returning briefly to Amy Jones, this was the best we’ve seen her play for England for a while – she is such a confidence player, and there were a few nervous moments early on today, but once she got in she made it count with some glorious stroke-play, including two sixes over long on that were little more than lofted drives off the bat, but timed so self-assuredly that they sailed over the rope… albeit one with a little help from Sneh Rana, who couldn’t hang on as it slipped through her upstretched hand.
England now have an unassailable lead in the multi-format series – India can’t win it now, though they could still earn a draw if they win the two remaining T20s in Hove and Chelmsford. They still have the players to do that – Smriti Mandhana always looks like a player and a half, and although Shafali had a bit of a “moment” today, she’s ever a danger too. Ironically, although they have won just one game in the series so far – the final ODI – in Shafali and Smriti, India have probably both the first two players you’d pick in a “Combined” XI; but they can’t carry 9 others alone. What we are seeing again and again at the moment is that England are a real “team” – whether it is Beaumont or Dunkley or Ecclestone or Jones… or Sciver today – someone will stand up more often than not, and ultimately that’s what gets you results in this game.