After winning the semifinal fixture against Australia India Women Captain Mithali Raj commented, “It would be not easy for England”. That was the final World Cup match all about. England, the three times champion of the tournament, had to earn the trophy against India, a team that only eyed the semifinals when it started the tour in Mumbai. After collapsing in the first stretch of the match at 228, England toiled throughout the pre-ultimate over of the match to defend the score. It was the finishing glitch in India’s batting that finally ended the thriller in favor of England. The result: England won the Women World Cup 2017, adding another peal to its victory string.
England’s opening partnership between Lauren Winfield and Tammy Beaumont lasted for 11 overs brining 47 in the stretch. The opening slowdown became chronic throughout the inning with India bowlers blitzing the top order. By the 16th over, England lost three wickets for 63. The next stretch was the stand between Sarah Taylor and Natalie Sciver, batting together for next 16 overs. The players hauled the score to 146, until being attacked by Jhulan Goswami. She removed Taylor at 45 and skipper Heather Knight at a single run in a gap of a single ball. After an over, Goswami attacked Sciver ending her 51-run stretch. England plummeted to 164 for 6 after 37 overs. In the final stretch, Katherine Brunt, Jenny Gunn, and Laura Marsh pulled up the score to 228.
India’s chase started with an early slog. Anya Shrubsole attacked Smriti Mandhana in the second over. It was just the beginning, because the former became the only reason of India’s woes in the inning. The bowler emerged as the ultimate hero of the day. Her 6-wicket haul in the match was enough to save England the final fixture. The next wicket was of captain Mithali Raj and the chase was at 43 for 2 after 12 overs. Punam Raut and Harmanpreet Kaur were successful to frustrate England bowlers, but they could not provide much impetus to the chase. Forging a partnership of more than 22 overs, the players hauled India’s score to 138.
Alex Hartley did away with Kaur removing a single run after her half century. In the next stretch Punam Raut, batting since the beginning, paired with Veda Krishnamurthy for next 9 overs. Raut scored 86 off 115 balls until Shrubsole attacked again. Her wicket slackened the chase with India losing next 3 wickets in next two overs. Suddenly, India’s chase stranded, falling to 201 for 7. Still, as the victory was not that far, and with enough overs in hand, there was still hopes for an India celebration at Lords.
The chase was still on India’s hand needing less than 15 runs with more than a ball a run at hand. But, Shikha Pandey’s run out came out as an outcome of finishing pressure, which was not necessary. Jenny Gunn, who maintained the strictest economy of 2.45 infused the pressure hard, which derailed the finish. While Shrubsole, for whom removing India’s wickets became a handy art, finally removed Rajeswari Gayakwad the last standing player.
India lost a match that it could have definitely won. Still, the team has reasons to celebrate as it reached the final in World Cup after 12 long years. For England it was fifth final, but for India, it was only the second occasion in the tournament’s history. In the after-match interview, skipper Mithali Raj said it is the right time for women IPL, a cause she has been backing up for last several years. The season emerged as an insignia of growing competitiveness in women cricket. It took the format to new levels apart from earning a phenomenal growth of viewers throughout the globe.
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