The Indian women’s cricket team were all set to snap their losing streak in Twenty20 Internationals. Mithali Raj had scored 30 and and heading into the final over, India needed three runs to win the third and final Twenty20 International at Barsapara, Guwahati against England. However, Kate Cross, the right-arm medium pacer put in one of the great displays of bowling in the last over and India spectacularly ‘choked’. Bharati Fulmali, the right-handed batter played out three dot balls and the equation boiled down to three runs from three balls. On the fourth ball, Fulmali holed out to mid-off where Anya Shrubsole took the catch and she departed for five off 13 balls. In the next ball, Anuja Patil was stumped by Tammy Beaumont and India suddenly needed three off the last ball. Shikha Pandey managed to take just a single off the last ball and in spectacular style, India lost the match by one run and were whitewashed 3-0 in the series.
This was India’s seventh consecutive Twenty20 International loss and it was their second consecutive 3-0 whitewash, having lost to the New Zealand White Ferns by a similar margin in the previous series. The way India squandered the advantage in the death overs once again put Smriti Mandhana’s knock in vain. The Indian skipper gave India a good start in the chase of 120.
After losing Harleen Deol cheaply, Mandhana found the boundaries at regular intervals and at the end of the powerplay, India had reached 46/1. Mandhana made good progress but the 49-run stand ended Jemimah Rodrigues (11) was trapped LBW by Linsey Smith. Mithali joined Mandhana and India continued to blunt the England attack.
However, England fought hard and Laura Marsh got the big wicket of Mandhana for 58 but India were in a good position, needing 33 runs off 42 balls. However, Danielle Wyatt and Cross bowled three tight overs and the pressure was on India. Fulmali, in particular, failed to rotate strike. Mithali struck a crucial boundary in the last ball of the 19th over and India needed just three but the veteran could not come on strike and India lost the match by one run as England held their nerve.
Earlier, England struggled to make good progress as they reached 119/6 with solid contributions from Beaumont (29), Wyatt (24) and a 21-ball 26 from Amy Ellen Jones. Anuja Patil and Harleen Deol were the stars taking two wickets apiece but the inability of the Indian batting to chase down a small total points to bigger problems in this format.
Speaking after the end of the match, Mandhana said her dismissal was the turning point. “I think the way the match unfolded, it was really disappointing. It would have been better if I had continued. I think others should have stepped up and scored those 20-odd runs. Really disappointed how the girls batted,” Mandhana said.
India will be happy that they won the ODI series 2-1 which puts them in a great position in the ICC Women’s Championship but they will be bitterly disappointed that they lost their seventh game on the trot in Twenty20 Internationals.