Mumbai: In a game where India’s middle-over flaws were highlighted once again, a stupendous bowling show spearheaded by Ekta Bisht saw India go one-up in the three-match ODI series against England after securing a comprehensive 66-run victory at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday.
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) February 22, 2019
With England chasing a stiff target of 203 after electing to bowl, Shikha Pandey drew first blood for India as early as in her first over with Amy Ellen Jones falling prey to a deadly in swinger.
The scene looked worse at the end of power play with England tottering at 28-2. Sarah Taylor shuffled across to the off stump but was deceived by another inswinging delivery from Shikha, who wrapped up her first spell with impressive figures of 5-1-8-2.
Deepti Sharma soon joined the party after Tasmin Beaumont miscued a slog-sweep, playing against the turn to hand a dolly to Poonam Yadav at short fine leg. But after a stuttering start, England slowly clawed their way back through captain Heather Knight and Natalie Sciver with an instrumental 73-run stand that pegged momentum back in favour of the visitors.
When England looked to be running away with the game, a sudden run-out of Sciver sprung the contest back to life. Having put down Sciver earlier at mid-wicket, Ekta Bhist made amends with great awareness to break the crucial partnership.
Knight ploughed a lonely furrow despite losing partners regularly at the other end, who all failed to record double digit figures.
Even before England could even find their feet, left-arm spinner Bisht rattled the tail with three wickets to put an end to the script.
"I attempted to take that catch but couldn’t hold on to it. But I wasn’t under any pressure because I knew we had a long way to go into the match and the more we could stretch it, the more we could be under control. We did not give up at the point. Even when the equation came down ball to ball, we kept going and eventually got the result,” player of the match Bisht said in the post-match presser.
Earlier, a combined bowling effort from the English bowlers restricted India for a paltry total of 202.
Carrying on their lethal opening partnership from the New Zealand series, openers Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues laid out a solid foundation to put India in control with a composed 69-run stand.
Mandhana was the first to go after she chopped on a Georgia Elwiss delivery straying down leg straight onto the stumps, shortly after the drinks break. Deepti Sharma was quick to follow.
Undone by the flight from Sophie Ecclestone, the southpaw marched down the track for a reckless hoick before losing her balance. Sarah Taylor was quick to whip off the bails even before she had any chance of making it back.
Ecclestone struck again through a soft dismissal as the well-set Jemimah nudged a tossed up delivery a tad bit early, popping an easy practice catch back at the bowler to leave India in a pickle.
Natalie Sciver piled more misery with the dismissals of debutant Harleen Deol and Mona Meshram in quick succession to trigger a shocking collapse, where the hosts lost their half their side for just 26 runs.
Given the absence of star batswoman Harmanpreet Kaur to injury, it seemed evident that India’s shaky middle-order would crumble once again. Mithali Raj, however, shouldered the responsibility of an anchor with aplomb as she held the ship together. Together with ‘keeper-batswoman Taniya Bhatiya, Raj soaked the pressure with a spirited 54-run partnership, with a major onus on rotating the strike.
Taniya was just getting into the groove before a lapse in concentration saw her pay the price. The 21-year-old rushed out of her crease to trade a cheeky single with Mithali and well before she could sense the warning, a direct hit from Natalie Sciver at the non-striker’s end meant it was too late.
India badly needed the experience and guidance of Mithali after the downfall the middle-order underwent. But at the crucial juncture during the innings, the India skipper was trapped right in front of the stumps after misjudging a length ball from Elwiss, denying the veteran a gritty half-century.
Shikha Pandey and Bisht departed in similar fashion to Bhatia but Jhulan Goswami’s late exploits ensured the Women in Blue steered past the 200-run mark....