First ODI gave all of us enough indication of how close a contest between bat and ball could go if there is enough life on the pitch. Expecting to produce the same kind of intensity once again, English and Indian women locked horns for the 2nd ODI on an almost similar, if not exactly, kind of pitch but with little better assistance for the batsman.
With a close and morale-boosting win in the pocket, confident India started the 2nd ODI on a positive note by winning the toss and electing to bat first to put up a decent opening stand of 31 runs. However, what was in store after that was rather a disastrous story.
Credit must be given to the English bowlers who kept a very tight off-stump line consistently throughout the India innings. The balls to Mithali Raj and to Smriti Mandhana were peaches that demonstrated the kind of discipline English bowlers maintained. Pacers Shrubsole and Sciver had little to do when the spinners grabbed the responsibility with both hands.
Ignoring a couple of slip, their fielding provided able support to the bowlers which tighten the screws on Indian batters. They had snatched Indian boundaries for more than 4 times and restricted the chances of batters rotating the strikes.
Two career-best performances: first from Danielle Hazell (4 for 32) and another from Sophie Ecclestone, who produced a stupendous spell (4 for 14 with 5 maiden overs), paved the path for the English win with 8 wickets in hand. After their disciplined bowling and fielding performance, batting on the second innings looked like a mere formality.
There were two turning points if I could say, in the match. One was during the 9th over when Mithali Raj was completely taken aback when she tried putting a front-foot defense of Hazell’s off-spin and the ball turned viciously towards the gap between bat and pad and went on to hit the off-stump. The other one was during the 22nd over when Ecclestone took the prize wicket of the ‘in-form’ Smriti Mandhana. It was a good length delivery attacking off-stump, the southpaw paw played little inside. That misjudgment, eventually, gave enough room for the ball to kiss the top of the timber.
Rest of the Indian batters fell for the mix of some good bowling and poor shot selection. Shot selection continues to be the problem for India throughout this home series. Harmanpreet hitting a full toss only to find Ecclestone at mid-on could be one example.
Except Mandhana, who once again exhibited her caliber and temperament positively, rest of the batters could not put a fight and scored mere 61 runs collectively.
Chasing 113 was never a challenge at any point in English Innings. They reached the target with an ease leaving 21 overs behind. Thanks to the solid 73-run opening stand between Wyatt and Beaumont. Continuing her excellent form, Wyatt once again exhibited an excellent batting display in this match also.
Now that the series has moved to the 3rd ODI, the decider, it is going to be a very important test for India to showcase the kind of skills that they have demonstrated in World cup and South Africa series.
Let us all look forward to the 3rd and last ODI with the hope that it would be a solid and tight clash between two sides that could give viewers a treat to watch!