Danielle Wyatt, Natalie Sciver power England to victory in series decider

Danielle Wyatt and Natalie Sciver. © Getty Images

Smriti Mandhana’s sublime knock went in vain as an unbeaten 56-ball 89 from Danielle Wyatt powered England to an eight-wicket win in the final T20I against India on Wednesday (July 14) in Chelmsford. With this win, England sealed the T20I series 2-1 and the multi-format series 10-6.

Defending seven and a half runs per over, India got off to a decent start with the ball. Shikha Pandey conceded only two runs in the first over, and Arundhati Reddy followed it up with a six-run over. Though Radha Yadav gave away 11 in the third, Deepti Sharma struck gold in the fourth as she trapped Beaumont, who tried to sweep the off spinner, on the pads. 

England were 23 for one after four overs. Kaur was impressive with her bowling changes, not allowing the batters to get used to any particular bowler. However, Wyatt changed the course of the innings in one over. The out-of-form opener smashed Sneh Rana for three boundaries, taking control of the power play.

Natalie Sciver, who missed out in the second T20I due to an unlucky run out, took on India’s key spinner, Poonam Yadav. She swept Yadav to the mid-wicket boundary, and Wyatt thumped the leg-spinner down the ground in the same over. With Wyatt leading the attack, Sciver was more than happy to play second-fiddle.

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The England opener was particularly going over cover and down the ground, making the most of the shorter straight boundaries. The significant difference between the teams, though, was the strike rotation. England played 15 dot balls in the first ten overs and only two between overs seven to ten, whereas India had played 28 dot balls in the first half of their innings. 

Wyatt brought up her eighth T20I fifty in just 33 balls, guiding Pandey to the third-man boundary. She repeated the same shot for the same result when the Indian seamer tried to bowl a wide yorker. Meanwhile, Sciver was piercing the field with precision, picking up crucial boundaries when needed. 

The duo countered the Indian spinners by going deep into the crease and coming down the track to manipulate the fielding set by Kaur. Wyatt, in particular, chipped them over the inner circle where they did not have the outfielders to score her boundaries. Together, they added 112 runs before Sciver was bowled by Rana for 42 runs from 36 balls. However, the skipper Heather Knight joined Wyatt in the middle and saw through the chase in 18.4 overs. Wyatt finished unbeaten with 89 runs from 56 balls.

Coming on the back of a win while defending in the second T20I, India opted to bat. Shafali Verma, who was the star of the day in the previous encounter, did not last long as her nemesis in the England team, Katherine Brunt, got better off the teenager in the series decider. Verma backed away and tried to slog a length delivery to Brunt, only to play it back onto the stumps. 

Harleen Deol joined Mandhana in the middle, but she struggled to rotate strike on a pitch that had a fair bit of seam movement. Deol was planting her front foot across, and it led to her downfall against Sophie Ecclestone. Deol hit one through mid-wicket, and Sciver completed a diving catch. India were down to 13 for two after 3.3 overs when their skipper Harmanpreet Kaur walked out to bat.

Having got some runs under her belt, Kaur was proactive right from ball one. She kept the scoreboard moving, with Madhana taking her time to settle. The England seamers were not giving Mandhana any width outside the off stump. The left-hander pulled Brunt to the square-leg boundary and lofted over mid-on in the same over. 

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With the outfield on the slower side, Kaur resorted to unconventional shots as she scooped Freya Davies over the head of Amy Jones for a boundary. When Sarah Glenn came on, the Indian skipper welcomed her with square-cut. Kaur did not spare Mady Villiers as she slogged her over long-on for a massive six.

Meanwhile, Mandhana got herself going with a sweep off Ecclestone and loft over mid-off in the Davies over. Kaur took the attack to Glenn as she swept a full-toss to square-leg and followed it up with an inside-out shot to cover-point boundary. The duo added 69 runs together before Kaur was trapped in front of the stumps by Sciver. She made 36 runs from 26 balls.

Mandhana, on the other hand, seemed determined to play a long inning as she had spoken ahead of the final T20I. She whipped Davies to square-leg and flicked the seamer to fine-leg in the same over. Mandhana brought up her thirteenth T20I fifty in 42 balls. 

The left-hander swept Ecclestone over deep-midwicket and thumped Brunt over mid-off. However, Brunt had the last laugh as she dismissed Mandhana for 70 from 51 balls, thanks to a diving catch from Sciver. Not fluttered by the dismissal, Ghosh hit back-to-back boundaries off Brunt in the same over. With the wicketkeeper batter smashing a quick 13-ball 21, India finished with 153 for six in 20 overs. Ecclestone picked up three wickets for 35 runs in her four overs. 

Brief scores: India 153/6 in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 70, Sophie Ecclestone 3/35) lost to England 154/2 in 18.4 overs (Danielle Wyatt 89*, Sneh Rana 3/27) by eight wickets. POTM: Danielle Wyatt

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