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Shoddy bowling, butter fingers, a spin choke and England's bullish win

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Last updated on 06 Dec 2023 | 07:11 PM
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Shoddy bowling, butter fingers, a spin choke and England's bullish win

Indian bowling unit failed to show up as Sciver-Brunt, Wyatt, and Ecclestone led England to a 38 runs victory

Every fan of the Women In Blue awaited the beginning of the home season, but alas, it hasn’t started on a cheerful note for Harmanpreet Kaur’s team. They were outclassed in all three departments, falling short by 38 runs. The return of their ace spinner bolstered the England side, as Sophie Ecclestone was the best bowler on display today. 

India chose to bowl first on the batting paradise that is Wankhede, and despite the early double strike by Renuka Singh that included a delightful uprooting of Alice Capsey’s off stump, Harmanpreet and her bowlers never managed to maintain that pressure, allowing Natalie Sciver-Brunt and Danielle Wyatt to put up a partnership of 138 runs in just 87 balls. It ensured that England reached 197, a total of gigantic proportions even after factoring in the favourable batting conditions. 

Sciver-Brunt and Wyatt’s pulverisation of Indian bowling

Honestly speaking, the signs of defeat were visible ever since the partnership between Sciver-Brunt and Wyatt gained momentum after the early strikes. 

Renuka Singh Thakur had sent Sophia Dunkley and Alice Capsey packing in her first over itself, and England were in trouble with the scorecard reading 2-2. However, that’s when Wyatt and Sciver-Brunt rose up to the occasion. Wyatt was quite circumspect after the quick wickets and just looked to time the ball. That’s why, in an innings of 75 in just 47 balls, she scored only 16 runs in 15 balls off the Indian pacers. The rest was scored against spin! 

Wyatt's improved spin game was on full display. In 2022, she had gotten out five times against off-spinners. But 2023 was a new beginning for her, as she scored an average of 31.5 and a strike rate of 143 against offies. 

Today, Wyatt showed how she did it as she continuously moved across in the crease, trying to make room to hit the off-spinners, which India had plenty of today. Considering that the WPL auction is happening on December 9, it was a timely reminder from her that she’s one of the best opening batters in the World. 

While Wyatt scored at a strike rate of 159.7 today, Nat Sciver-Brunt was equally belligerent from the other end and scored 77 off just 53 balls, 68.8% of which came on the leg side as she put out a lavish display of sumptuous sweeps. This year, she’s averaging 54 with a strike rate of 174.2 playing the sweep shots, and the Indian spinners helped her improve that record even further by erring in their lines to her, and she took full toll off them. 

In the 7-15 overs phase, both the batters scored 90 runs, which eventually became the major difference between the two teams, as the English spinners tightened the screws during this phase, and the Indian ones leaked runs from an open tap. 

England’s spin choke and India’s dismal bowling performance 

It was as if someone had put on a highlight of what the Australian women did to India last year when they toured for a T20I series. 197 is the second most number of runs given by India in the format's history! Last year, Australia missed it by one run. 

It all happened because no bowlers showed up properly except for Renuka Singh Thakur, who took three wickets for just 27 in her four overs. Firstly, India made the mistake of playing two proper off-spinners (Deepti Sharma and Shreyanka Patil) along with some more part-time offies against a right-hand-dominated England; and secondly, none of them looked in form as they struggled for line and length. 

They could have easily played Titas Sadhu, who was brilliant in the Asian Games for India. But they didn’t, and the two debutants, Shreyanka and Saika Ishaque, registered the worst and second-worst bowling figures for an Indian bowler in WT20Is. 

Also read - Titas Sadhu - A star is born in Asian Games

The Indian spinners bowled wide, full and short too often and were duly punished by Wyatt and Sciver-Brunt. Even a casual look at the pitch maps below will tell you that. Moreover, the likes of Ecclestone and Sarah Glenn (a leg spinner) had their average speeds (81 kmph) much lower than the Indian spinners (83.7 kmph), thus making it hard for the likes of Harmanpreet, Richa and Shafali to hit. 

These three are the biggest hitters in the Indian batting lineup, and the English spinners dismissed all three before the death overs. Overall, Ecclestone and Glenn bowled eight overs between them for just 40 runs and took four out of the six Indian wickets to fall. This choke was the major reason India could only score 70 in the 7-15 overs phase, where England scored 96! 

When will India’s fielding improve?

Indian women have had the worst catching efficiency in WT20Is since 2022. They dropped two catches in the same over today. Moreover, they have around nine extra runs through misfields. 

These numbers are enough to tell you the dire state of Indian fielding. However, once you combine that with poor fitness standards and running between the wickets, you have a team that makes some basic errors in the field. Teams like England and Australia capitalise on these, and that’s the reason why the Women In Blue have lost some really crucial games (even in World Cups) by small margins. 

Today, that problem was visible in all its glory, as India looked inferior to the English side in the field. The new head coach Amol Muzumdar dialled down on fitness and fielding as the two most important things he’ll be working on in his tenure, and today’s game proved that India can’t beat the best sides in the World regularly if they don’t work on these issues. 

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