At 70-0, chasing a low-ish 122, England were going along nicely at 70-0, two balls shy of the 10 over mark. Danni Wyatt, who had been happily playing second-fiddle to Sophia Dunkley, didn’t quite get everything on a pull down the ground and was caught in the deep. With the batters having crossed, Dunkley retained the strike with a single off the final ball of the 10th over to face Radha Yadav at the other end, with just a single required to add another international half-century to her trophy cabinet.
It should have been the moment to put the cherry on top of the cake, but instead Dunkley lost it completely – playing and missing at 6 dots from Radha, like a woman who’d totally forgotten how to bat. Alice Capsey jogged a single off her first ball to give Dunkley yet another chance to pass 50, but instead of just nurdling a straight delivery from Pooja Vastrakar into the off side, she tried to heave it over midwicket, missed it completely, and was about as comprehensively bowled as it is possible to be.
Dunkley was later named Player of the Series, having topped the run charts, but it was a series of performances that showcased her vulnerabilities as well as her talents – one minute she’ll be scoring all round the ground, the next she’ll look like someone who has accidentally wandered onto the field having taken a wrong turn on her way to the pub.
Amy Jones soon followed, playing down the District Line to a ball that took the Hammersmith & City, and England were suddenly in a bit of a hole – literally, a hole on the “Trend”.
Thank goodness then for Alice Capsey, who dug England out the hole and showed… yet again… why she is the most exciting young player we’ve seen since Sarah Taylor first emerged onto the scene 15 years ago at a similar age. Capsey ended with 38 not out off 24 balls – finishing the job for England for the second time in the series, after her 32 not out in the 1st T20 in Durham.
The assumption when Capsey was picked to debut in the T20 series against South Africa just two short months ago would surely have been that she would play the T20s, but give way for the ODI series; but how can England drop her now? Especially without Nat Sciver and Heather Knight (who sat quietly and surprisingly anonymously in the crowd this evening).
It would have been a much more straightforward chase for England if it hadn’t been for Pooja Vastrakar (19 off 11) and Richa Ghosh (32 off 22) battling away at the end. India had looked to be heading for a total south of 100 but Pooja and Richa put up some fight in the last 3 overs to get India past the 120 which is the bare minimum these days in this format.
First Ghosh turned Issy Wong’s pace against her in the 18th, hitting the speedster for 3 consecutive boundaries, before Sophie Ecclestone stepped in and presumably suggested that she try taking pace off, which Wong did for the last two deliveries of the over, conceding only two more singles in the process.
Then in the final over, it was Vastrakar’s turn to do some damage – hacking 15 off Freya Davies, who didn’t do a lot wrong, but still had to watch the ball disappear twice to the boundary.
With 122 on the board, India had a chance, and although it got quite cool by the end of the evening, it didn’t dew-up in the way it had done in Derby, so the gods weren’t totally on England’s side. But then… as we’ll probably find ourselves saying a few times in the next ten or fifteen years… who needs gods when you’ve got Alice Capsey.
At 79-3 at the fall of Jones England required 44 runs off 50 balls with 7 wickets left. Describing this scenario as ‘a hole’ is perhaps going a bit over the top.
Get privately excited about Capsey (as a talent) but I’m a bit worried about too much public lauding of very young sports men and women. Yes, given the death-stare that Capsey fired in the direction of Smith when run out in the 2nd T20, she does look like she’s got a load of guts, fire and determination supporting her exceptional talent but very young displays of exceptional talent are usually followed by a period of relative under performance (they are young, its going to happen), a period when the last thing they want is the glare of publicity. Were it not for her batting in the 2nd ODI such a spotlight might now be shining on Kemp’s bowling (both in this series and The Hundred) and that would be pretty hard to cope with. Raducanu is perhaps a very good recent example of this scenario. Perhaps I’m living in a parallel universe and the explosion of media channels makes this impossible.
So, at the risk of lauding Capsey, I would suggest she must be nailed on to play the ODIs.
(If England open with Beaumont and Wyatt and then have Capsey at number 3, that might represent the least tall top 3 in cricket history and it would be a missed opportunity not to see one of them bat along side Bell – Gulliver’s Travels incarnate) !
For India, what might seem a bad loss, had some silver linings. For years, especially in big matches, they have collapsed with the lower order showing little sticking power. At least in Sharma, Ghosh and Vastrakar India look like they may have found a solution to this problem.
Finally a nod to Shrubsole. Definitely has a long future in commentary (and some of the others could learn from her – doesn’t say much but its all worth listening to)
Yes this was much more like it from England. I enjoyed the way they bowled and fielded again here. That first graph above shows just how poor India were in keeping the scoring ticking along in the second half of the powerplay through to about the 12th over. Very little intent shown and few runs scored. England bowled well and continued to take wickets but that’s really where the game was lost – the way India’s lower order picked up the rate again near the end showed how bad it had been. Ecclestone and Glenn were brilliant again. And although Davies figures looked expensive by the end, she was unlucky and actually bowled quite well.
You’re maybe a bit harsh to Dunkley. It’s the down-side of a player who strikes the ball so well – sometimes she struggles to just tap and run, play with soft hands and guide the ball to get a single. I think it’s something that will come with more experience. But I’d rather have a player who races to 49 then gets out than a player who can’t get past 20 or 30, which has been a problem in the past.
Meanwhile Bryony Smith quietly impressed in this game, one of her better England performances. She’s found a useful little T20 niche as a middle order rebuilder and a bowler who can actually get Mandhana out regularly. That’s a very important role. Let’s hope Dean can do it too, now she’s replaced Smith in the squad.
Capsey is one of the best timers of a cricket ball I’ve seen in the women’s game. Her shot selection seems to be one of the best, too. Her ability to just come in and score freely is remarkable. Another brilliant effort from her.