Dharamsala, March 22 : The Indian women’s cricket team succumbed to its second successive defeat when they went down to England by two wickets in the World Twenty20 at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium.
India batted with a bit too much abandon and finished on 90 for 8. England approached the chase sensibly at the start but, in search of a quick finish and perhaps a vital boost in net run-rate, nearly bottled it.
Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole eventually saw the side through to a nail-biting two-wicket win with an over to spare.
Asked to bat, India were left to rue the what-ifs had the batters not been so eager to jump the gun earlier in the day. First, V.R. Vanitha (0) top-edged a delivery from Heather Knight in the opening over to Lydia Greenway.
Then, Smriti Mandhana (12) had a go at Shrubsole in the medium pacer’s first over, but Natalie Sciver misjudged the catch. Anya Shrubsole was not to be denied, though, as Mandhana inside-edged one on to the stumps moments later to be out for 12.
India were 15 for 2, and that should have set off alarm bells. It didn’t. Shikha Pandey walked in and decided to attack Shrubsole as well, but Danielle Wyatt dropped a fairly easy catch at deep cover.
Later Knight had Shikha out for 12, caught brilliantly by Katherine Brunt near the boundary, while Sciver sent back Mithali Raj for 20 to leave India on a slippery slope at 47 for 4 in the 13th over.
Captain Mithali Raj tried her best but could only score 20. The middle and lower order had no choice but to hit out then, and Harmanpreet Kaur was the most successful, with a 25-ball 26 including three boundaries. Knight finished with 3 for 15 while Shrubsole picked up two wickets.
In pursuit of 91, England lost Charlotte Edwards (4) early, Ekta Bisht having her caught by wicketkeeper Sushma Verma. Tammy Beaumont and Sarah Taylor, however, got the side back on track, caressing the ball between gaps, and it seemed to be a straightforward chase at that stage.
But there was a twist in the tale as Bisht and Harmanpreet Kaur sliced through the line-up to reduce England to 71 for 6 and then 87 for 8.
Beaumont was the first to perish, top-edging Harmanpreet to Anuja Patil for an 18-ball 20. Harmanpreet then outfoxed Taylor next ball as the wicketkeeper-batter was stumped for 16. England were 42 for 3 and played soundly once more, but then Bisht returned to have Knight and Greenway dismissed off successive deliveries. Sciver became Bisht’s fourth wicket as England was left in the lurch.
Some excellent fielding from India led to England losing two more wickets but the drama came to an end with Shrubsole guiding a full toss from Veda Krishnamurthy past point to get the winning runs.
After the loss, India are third with two points, while the West Indies, the home side’s remaining opponent, and England are on the top two slots respectively.