Photo Credit: ICC
England came into their clash with India knowing this would be a real gauge of their form at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 and skipper Heather Knight could not have been happier with an 11-run victory.
It was far from plain sailing against an India team who were also two from two before the clash in Gqeberha, with England at one point reduced to 29 for three as Renuka Singh (5/15) ran riot.
However Knight (28), along with Nat Sciver-Brunt (50) and Amy Jones (40) steadied the ship to help England to 151 for seven, which proved enough on the day.
England’s spinners, Sophie Ecclestone (1/14) and Sarah Glenn (2/27) then slowed the Indian response after Smriti Mandhana’s quickfire 52, and eventually the run rate just got too high for them.
Knight said: “We talk about batting as per conditions and Nat and I did that. Amy was fantastic and it’s good to see that our batting group showed character even after 29 for three. (Renuka Singh) up front was outstanding, moving the ball both ways is tough. You want the boundaries but you have to take ones and twos and that manipulated the field for us.
“We haven’t really played against a big team recently and to play like this against this Indian team was fantastic. (Sophie) Ecclestone and (Sarah) Glenn varied pace brilliantly. Our ground fielding was the best we did in the competition. We need to take catches and can’t drop players like Mandhana.”
While Mandhana was put down in the eighth over, player of the match Nat Sciver-Brunt held on when it mattered, catching the opener at the long-off boundary the ball after she had reached a half-century with a monster six.
For India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur though, it was with the ball that her side fell short, failing to capitalise on a brilliant start.
She said: “We started really well but in the middle overs, we didn’t bowl according to plan and lost the momentum. In batting we were doing well but unfortunately weren’t able to get the run-rate needed.
“Whenever Renuka is bowling, we are looking for wickets. She enjoys bowling.”
Despite Mandhana finding the boundary early and Richa Ghosh (47 not out) making an impact late on, it was a spell of seven overs where India could not find the ropes that proved costly in their chase, with the skipper and Jemimah Rodrigues (13) both departing during that passage.
That also left them behind on DLS when a light drizzle arrived, with India never really able to get the chase back on track.
Kaur added: “We were speaking about DLS also but wanted to go with the rhythm. In between when the rain came, we were 10-12 runs behind but we knew with Mandhana and Ghosh, we would cover that. Sometimes when you are behind, you have to take charge, which is where we lost Jemi and my wicket.”