Leading up to the first T20I against England, India’s women’s team had everything in its favour — the known conditions, huge crowd support and most importantly, it won the toss.
However, once the ball got rolling at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday evening, England rode on marauding fifties by Natalie Sciver-Brunt (77, 53b, 13x4) and Danni Wyatt (75, 47b, 8x4, 2x6) to put up a mammoth 197 for 6 — its second-highest total in the format — and eventually bagged a 38-run win against the home side.
Opting to bowl, India got off to a dream start as Renuka Singh Thakur — returning from a stress injury — castled Sophia Dunkley and Alice Capsey in the very first over. However, as the innings progressed, India failed to press home the advantage as Wyatt and Sciver-Brunt consolidated en route to their 138-run stand for the third wicket.
England recovered from the early jolt and reached 89 for two at the halfway stage of its innings as India was sloppy on the field and missed a few catches, allowing the visiting side to score at will.
As she took charge of the innings, Wyatt brought back memories of her iconic innings of 2018, where she hammered a 64-ball 124 against India at the Brabourne Stadium. She hit debutant Saika Ishaque for a few boundaries, making life difficult for the Indian bowlers. Wyatt got a lifeline when Pooja Vastrakar spilt a catch at long-on off another debutant, Shreyanka Patil (two for 44), and made most of the opportunities.
While Sciver-Brunt unleashed powerful hits on both sides — particularly sweep shots — for her fifth T20I half-century against India, Wyatt went hard at the Indian spinners before being stumped by Richa Ghosh off Ishaque. In the final overs, Ishaque and Patil came to the fore and managed to keep England under 200.
But India failed to get going, in pursuit of its target, as left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone, coming off her shoulder surgery, toyed with the home team with three for 15 from four overs.
Having lost Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues early on, India did look to regroup with Shafali Verma (52, 42b, 9x4) and captain Harmanpreet Kaur forging a 41-run partnership. However, as Ecclestone cleaned up the skipper, India’s middle-order looked lost in the chase. Though Richa came up with a 16-ball 21-run cameo and tried to rebuild with Shafali, the team was far off the finish line.
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