England win the Women’s World Cup as India panics


 By Kersi Meher-Homji

Bravo England for lifting the Women’s World Cup [WWC] for the fourth time. Hearty congratulations to the Person of the Match, medium-pacer Anya Shrubsole for her super spell of 6 for 46.

Congrats also to India for reaching the final and for looking a winner till the last 45 minutes of the engrossing match at a sold-out Lord’s on Sunday.

But at the end, panic engulfed India. The target was achievable; in the last 20 overs it was not more than six runs per over. Cup in hand? No. Panic on the brain? Yes.

In reply to England’s 7 for 228 (Natalie Sciver 51, India’s veteran quickie Jhulan Goswami 3 for 23, close to a hat-trick at one stage), India was cruising at 3 for 191 in 42.5 overs. Thus they needed only 38 runs to win the WWC off 43 balls with seven wickets in hand.

But panic grabbed the players once Harman Kaur, the heroine of the semi-final against Australia, fell for 51 and the gallant Punam Raut scoring 86 despite an injury.

I partly blame India’s experienced skipper Mithali Raj for this mayhem. Firstly, she should have sent in the dependable batsman Deepti Sharma at no.5 and not at no. 7.

Secondly she should have told the batsmen not to lift the ball and sacrifice their wickets unnecessarily but get them in ones and twos by clever placements.

The target was in their pocket and the Cup in their hands but mindless slogging gave England the ultimate joy.

This is how the procession started after being on top at 3-191 in 42.5 overs. It became 4-191, 5-196 in 43.3 overs, 6-200 in 44.4, 7-201 in 45, 8-218 in 47.3, 9-216 in 48.1 and 219 all out in 48.4 overs.

England won the thriller by nine runs. The Indian girls were too dejected to utter a word although they congratulated the winners.

It was all over for India and all ecstasy for the worthy winner England who kept cool heads. Person of WWC was England’s opening batsman Tammy Beaumont who scored the most runs in the 2017 WWC, 410 runs at 45.55 with one century (highest score 148) and one fifty.

India’s Mithali Raj was only one run behind; 409 runs at 45.44 with one century (highest 109) and three fifties.

A delighted England captain Heather Knight summed up, “I can’t stop smiling. The girls have been outstanding. We’ve made it hard for ourselves but we’ve won some tight games. All that we’ve done in the last 18 months was to deal with situations where the heat was on. Anya Shrubsole, what a hero. What a day!”

India’s dejected skipper Mithali Raj responded, “Yes, I’m proud. It wasn’t easy for England but credit to them for keeping their nerve. There was a time where the match was in the balance, but we panicked. I’m very proud of the girls… Jhulan [Goswami] is an experienced bowler and has always delivered when the team has needed her to. It could’ve been a match-winning performance but I knew England have depth. All the youngsters tried their best, I’m sure this experience will help them. Now, people back home will have a different perspective about women’s cricket.”

Veterans Raj and Goswami will not be around for the next World Cup in New Zealand in 2021 but youngsters Punam Raut, Harmanpreet Kaur, Deepti Sharma, Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Poonam Yadav will have matured to give India a chance to win her first WWC.

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