Kaur's finishing act, Gayakwad, Deepti, Pandey two-fers help India beat England

S Sudarshanan
31 Jan 2020
Kaur's finishing act, Gayakwad, Deepti, Pandey two-fers help India beat England

Rajeshwari Gayakwad celebrates with her team-mates after picking a wicket. © Getty Images

A good bowling performance, despite that a decent total after some recovery, pacing the run-chase and finishing it in the last over - these are the elements of a classic run-chase. The first match of the T20I tri-series between India and England had it all, which saw India defeat England by five wickets at the Manuka Oval, Canberra on Friday (January 31), thanks to the calm head of Harmanpreet Kaur, after the bowlers kept England down to under 150.
England’s innings was a tale of two halves. The first part of it vindicated India’s call to bowl first after winning the toss. India’s spinners were on the money, not letting England get off to a quick start.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad, back for India after 18 months, began by dismissing Amy Jones (one) in the first over. And then she added another one to her kitty, getting Danielle Wyatt (four) to slice one straight to Shikha Pandey at backward point.

Natalie Sciver and Heather Knight then made merry for a while, as India dropped catches – Sciver was given a life when on eight by Harmanpreet Kaur while Knight was on six when her shot was parried over the square leg fence by Jemimah Rodrigues. But Radha Yadav came into the attack and sent Sciver back for 18.
Soon, Pandey used her clever change of pace to dismiss Fran Wilson for seven, thereby leaving England tottering at four for 59 in ten overs. It then seemed that India’s bowlers would be successful in restricting England to a low score. But then the Indians ran to into a wall – Heather Knight. Except that, she wasn’t just another wall.
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Fierce cuts, powerful pulls, audacious lofts, smart reverse sweeps and cheeky sweeps – the England captain’s knock had them all as she went about with her ‘attack is the best form of defence’ ways. She eventually brought up just her second T20I half century off just 38 balls. She wasn’t finished though.
Knight went on to add 17 more runs in just eight balls after making fifty and was eventually caught in the deep off Pandey for a career-best 67. In the 35 balls before she was dismissed, England had managed to rake up 66 runs. That had got India worrying, who then came back to keep the opposition down to seven for 147.
Pandey picked up a couple of wickets but 15 runs in her last over meant that she ended up 2/33 in her spell. Deepti Sharma also picked up a couple of wickets in her spell giving away just 30 runs. But the pick of the Indian bowlers was Gayakwad with two for 19 in her four overs.
In pursuit of 148, India began well through Shafali Verma, who attacked from the first over. Smriti Mandhana, who got a life on her very first ball off Katherine Brunt, then went on to hit three more boundaries in the over, before falling to Natalie Sciver for 15.
Jemimah Rodrigues got along with Verma and added 57 runs for the second wicket. The duo didn’t take too many risks as they went about accumulating runs for the side. But as soon as Knight came into the attack, she struck by sending Verma back for 30. Soon, Rodrigues also mistimed a heave to mid-on for 26.

But Kaur held one end up and kept taking India closer to the target. At one point the heat and perhaps, cramps, got to her but she stayed unbeaten on 42 to ensure she finished the game and India began their journey on Australian soil with a win. Sharma also contributed to the win with the bat, staying unbeaten on 12 as the duo added an unfinished 28 runs in just 15 balls to win with three balls to spare.
Brief Scores: England 147/7 in 20 overs (Heather Knight 67, Tammy Beaumont 37; Rajeshwari Gayakwad 2/19, Deepti Sharma 2/30, Shikha Pandey 2/33) lost to India 150/5 in 19.3 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 42*, Shafali Verma 30; Katherine Brunt 2/33) by five wickets. PoTM: Heather Knight.

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