INDW v ENGW: Do-or-die for embattled India

A Twenty20 series loss is at stake for the Indian team as it takes on England in the second match of the series.

Smriti Mandhana (left) and Harleen Deol at a practice session in Guwahati on Wednesday. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar

The winning margin for England in the opening women’s Twenty20 International (T20I) was 41 runs. That is quite big for a format with such a small number of overs. But the gap between the two sides in the quality of cricket played was bigger.

India will be desperate to put that loss behind it — as its captain Smriti Mandhana would love to say — as it takes on its formidable rival in the second match at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium here on Thursday.

It is a must-win game for the host; it will not want to give away the series with a match still left. The women will also be keen to end their losing streak in T20s. The last time they won a game in this format was in November, 2018, against Australia at the World T20. They have lost all the five matches they have played since, including three in New Zealand last month.

England, on the other hand, will be looking to keep up the momentum; it had beaten India in the World T20 semifinal at North Sound (Antigua) as well as in the final One-Day International (ODI) in Mumbai last week — after having lost the first two matches.

Misfiring top order

With the T20 World Cup less than a year away, India will hope to translate its ODI form into T20s. For that, it needs its batting to fire. Smriti, Mithali Raj and Jemimah Rodrigues cannot afford to perish early as they did earlier in the week, especially in the absence of the injured regular captain Harmanpreet Kaur.

The top-order had collapsed dramatically — India was reduced to 41 for four — and it needed contributions from all-rounders Deepti Sharma and Shikha Pandey to lend some respectability to the score. The bowlers, too, have to be less profligate than they were in the first game.

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They are up against some exceptional talents in the England batting line-up — captain Heather Knight, Natalie Sciver, Danielle Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont. Knight, Beaumont and Wyatt had all sent India on a leather hunt in the first match. Their efforts had not gone in vain. They were backed up by the bowlers: seamers Katherine Brunt, Anya Shrubsole and Kate Cross as well as left-arm spinner Linsey Smith.

'Amazing side'

England, however, expects India to bounce back. “They are an amazing side,” said Wyatt.

Earlier, Smriti had admitted she was nervous in her first match as captain. “I will be more pro-active in the second game,” she promised.

The teams (from)
  • India: Smriti Mandhana (c), Mithali Raj, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Bharti Fulmali, Anuja Patil, Shikha Pandey, Komal Zanzad, Arundhati Reddy, Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bisht, Radha Yadav, Veda Krishnamurty, Harleen Deol.
  • England: Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Sophia Dunkley Brown, Freya Davies, Georgia Elwiss, Amy Ellen Jones, Heather Knight (c), Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Linsey Smith, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt, Alex Hartley
  • Match starts 11 am.