England sealed their T20 series against India in emphatic fashion at Bristol, winning by seven wickets with 10 balls to spare as Sophia Dunkley (49 off 44) and Alice Capsey (38 not out off 24) easily chased down the 123 runs required.
England’s series win came despite them missing three of their senior players – Heather Knight, Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt. “It’s been different but we’ve all taken it upon ourselves to do our bit,” Capsey said. “It’s a real confidence booster for us younger ones when we do get it right.”
Two days on from being dominant with the bat in Derby, India were bafflingly poor on Thursday, stuttering to 35 for five in the opening 10 overs. Two of their top five made ducks, while none of their Derby match-winners – Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur – could get out of single figures.
Richa Ghosh, perhaps with a point to prove after her bizarre omission from India’s Commonwealth Games squad earlier in the summer, did her best to rescue the innings with a quickfire 33 off 22 at the back end. But Sophie Ecclestone (three for 25), having already seen off Sneh Rana and Deepti Sharma, added to her list of scalps by trapping Ghosh lbw in the penultimate over.
In reply, England raced to 45 without loss in the powerplay thanks to more powerful hitting from Dunkley. Their only wobble came after Danni Wyatt was caught at long-on in the 10th over; a wicket that seemed somehow to shake Dunkley’s confidence. The 11th over became a maiden from Radha Yadav, with Dunkley trying in vain to find her 50th run, as she consistently played and missed. She was bowled by Pooja Vastrakar in the 12th, trying to slog across the line; while Amy Jones then came and went in the space of five balls, bowled by Yadav.
t that point England needed 44 from 43 balls, but – helped along by some fumbles in the deep from the chilly Indian fielders – Capsey and Bryony Smith (13 not out) saw England home.
“I felt nervous today,” Capsey admitted. “I didn’t know whether to play the reverse sweep or not, because this was a series decider! But I’ve still got the backing from the staff to play with that freedom. Bryony was great to have out there to calm me down.”
Earlier, England had won the toss and chosen to field first – a decision that proved a good call in the cool of a Bristol September evening. Issy Wong, back in the side after a difficult Hundred tournament, began with a wicket maiden, after Verma moved across her stumps only for Wong’s slower ball to ricochet off her pads and bowl her.
Smriti Mandhana guided the only two boundaries of the powerplay square of the wicket, but departed in the fourth over after Ecclestone claimed a diving catch running around from long-on. Replays later suggested she might not have been entirely in control of the ball when she hit the ground, but the umpires failed to refer it.
Brought into the XI for the first time in the series, Sabbhineni Meghana failed to advance her case for future selection, playing out eight dot balls before pulling the ninth into the hands of Wyatt at deep midwicket. Sarah Glenn then trapped Dayalan Hemalatha lbw, and triumphantly snuck through the defences of Kaur, as the Indian captain came charging down the pitch only to hear the death rattle behind her.
After a painfully slow few overs, Ghosh finally added some impetus, smashing five boundaries including three in a row off Wong, cleverly manipulating her way past the England fielders. She was supported by Deepti Sharma (24 from 25), until Sharma dozily raised her back foot to Ecclestone in the 17th over and was stumped. Ghosh herself fell victim to the same bowler two overs later.
When Pooja Vastrakar drove two of the final three balls to the boundary, finishing on 16 not out from 10, India had hit 64 runs off the final six overs; but it could not quite make up for their top-order brittleness.
They will be hoping for a more consistent showing in the ODI leg of the tour, which begins at Hove on Sunday.