Twice in less than twelve hours England cricket teams have won matches both of which could easily have been lost. This post covers both games, the first briefly, the second in rather more detail.
WINNING AFTER A DREADFUL START
In the West Indies the England men’s team made a dreadful start to their last match of the tour, being 32-4 at one point. Then Joe Root and Sam Billings had a good partnership, Root using all his experience to reach 50 off just 37 balls, while Billings reached the landmark of two balls fewer before then really opening out in the last few overs in the company of David Willey to finish unbeaten on 87 as England reached an improbable 182-6.
I decided that there was no way the West Indies were chasing that total down, and with the women due in action early in the morning my time went to bed. The West Indies had evidently been even more shattered by England’s recovery than I expected as was to find out that their response had been to crumple to 45 all out and defeat by 137 runs, Chris Jordan collecting extraordinary bowling figures of 4-6.
Full scorecard here.
A TIGHT FINISH IN GUWAHATI
With their series already won, the England women rested Kathryn Brunt for the last match, with a view to their upcoming tour of Sri Lanka. A bright start from Beaumont and Wyatt was frittered away as 51-0 became 93-6, but some good batting at the end by Sophia Dunkley, Brunt’s replacement, and Anya Shrubsole at least gave England 120 to defend. Poonam Yadav, the slowest spinner in international cricket, was her usual mean self, Anuja Patil took 2-13 from her four overs, while Harleen Deol, mainly a batter, picked up her first international wicket. In total 18 of the 20 overs of this innings were bowled by spinners, India’s sole quick bowler Pandey being required to bowl only two of her four overs.
India lost Deol early, but a good partnership for the second wicket between Smriti Mandhana (whose half-century was a quite superb innings) and Jemimah Rodrigues seemed to have put India firmly in control, especially when the veteran Mithali Raj assumed control of the chase thereafter.
Shrubsole looked to have given England a late chance when she tightened things up so that the target became 7 off 7 balls, but then her final ball was hit to the boundary by Raj, meaning that Kate Cross, given responsibility for bowling the last over in the absence of Brunt, had to prevent India from scoring three runs for England to win. Almost unbelievably, the target was still three as she prepared to bowl the last ball of the match – yes she had produced five successive dot balls at the death (claiming two wickets, Fulmali caught and Patil stumped along the way). Pandey connected firmly with that last delivery of the match, but a fine piece of fielding from Tammy Beaumont ensured that no more than a single could be taken and England had squeaked home by one run. That final match-winning over, which gave Cross total figures of 2-18 from her four overs also earned her the player of the match award – and this was her first T20 international series since 2015. Player of the series went deservedly to Danielle Wyatt who batted well in all three games.