It will take the host some time to recover from the one-run loss to England in the final T20 International at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in front of an excellent crowd on Saturday. It may have ended as a thriller -- with the women in blue needing three runs off the final ball -- but it shouldn’t have.
This was a match the side should have won comfortably, chasing a target of 119. It had required only three runs from the last over -- bowled by seamer Kate Cross – with six wickets intact. And at the crease was Mithali Raj, who has played 312 international matches across formats for India and made 9747 runs, unbeaten on 30.
But, Bharati Fulmali, in her second game, chose to go for glory herself, instead of trying to give the strike to her more accomplished partner. After wasting three balls, she gave a comfortable catch to Anya Shrubsole at mid-off.
Out came Anuja Patil and she had an even more ambitious plan: she made room outside the leg stump, stepped out and tried to hit Cross over her head, and possibly out of the ground. ‘Keeper Amy Jones, standing up, would have none of it as she knocked the bails off in a flash.
Shikha Pandey could only slice the final ball as far as Tammy Beaumont at point, for one run.
Mithali, must have been crestfallen.
A little way in the dug-out, her captain Smriti Mandhana must have had similar feelings. The stylish opener had made 58 off 39 balls (8x4, 1x6), which had looked quite the match-winning knock.
The left-hander had been flowing smoothly when she played on the off-spinner to her own stumps. She would have been disappointed with her attempt to steer that ball, but with her team needing 32 runs from seven overs with as many wickets remaining, she may have thought that she had done enough to win her first game for India as captain.
Earlier, she had a good day in the field, despite losing the toss. She shuffled her spinners around nicely to choke the England batting, which floundered after getting off to a flying start.
When Danielle Wyatt, who would later be named the Player-of-the-series, and Beaumont put on 51 for the first wicket in 7.2 overs, it had seemed as if the side would justify its skipper Heather Knight’s decision to bat first. But, the innings was turned on its head by India’s spinners, five of whom were on display on this day.
Off-spinner Anuja, in her first game of the series, was the pick. She sent back both the openers and finished with two for 13 from her four overs. Leg-spinners Poonam Yadav and Harleen Deol too, did well.
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