India’s dreams of winning a maiden global title lay in tatters after a questionable omission and an inexplicable batting collapse saw them crash to an eight-wicket defeat against England in the semifinals of the ICC Women’s World T20.
Reigning ODI World Champions England will now meet Australia in the summit clash after the Southern Stars beat defending champions West Indies by 72 runs.
India decided to leave their senior most player Mithali Raj, a move that will certainly be questioned, after India lost their last eight wickets for 24 runs to end up scoring a below-par 112 in 19.3 overs.
It was a walk in the park for England as seasoned campaigners Amy Jones (53 no, 47 balls) and Natalie Sciver (52 off 40 balls) added 92 runs for the unbroken third-wicket stand to finish the match in only 17.1 overs.
It was yet another story of Indian women not showing enough temperament during big match days, having lost the 50-over World Cup final to England at Lord’s last year and the Asia Cup T20 final to Bangladesh, earlier this year.
As many as seven players failed to get double digit scores and the spin-attack was unable to adapt to a different surface at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium after playing all their matches at Providence in Guyana.
The bold decision to drop Mithali, the highest run-getter in the shortest format, may haunt the Indian team for the longest time to come as coach Ramesh Powar and captain Harmanpreet Kaur will have a lot of answering to do in coming days.
On a track where the ball wasn’t coming on to the bat, it was the Englishwomen, who came up trumps with left-arm spinners Kirstie Gordon (2-20 in 4 overs) and Sophie Ecclestone (2-22 in 3.2 overs) varied the pace of their deliveries, something their Indian counterparts completely failed.
Skipper Heather Knight’s off-breaks also came in handy as she had the best figures of 3 for 9 in two overs as none of India’s middle and lower-order batters could force the pace.
Once Smriti Mandhana (33 off 24 balls), Jemimah Rodriguez (26 off 26 balls) and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (16 off 20 balls) were dismissed, there wasn’t any Plan B with Veda Krishnamurthy completely out of form and Deepti Sharma (7, 10 balls) incapable of hitting big shots.
Poor game sense of not reading the pitch also played its part as most of the Indian batswomen charged at the deliveries rather than playing deep inside the crease.
That was the ploy that Jones and Sciver deployed while facing the Indian spin quartet, who were below average on the day.
At Guyana, it was a slow track where the ploy of taking pace off the deliveries worked for the likes of Poonam Yadav (0-29 in 4 overs), Deepti (1-24 in 4 overs) and Anuja Patil (0-27 in 3.1 overs).
However the Antigua track was even slower where they needed to change the pace and bowl a little faster. The deliveries being slow through the air gave both Englishwomen enough time to rock on the backfoot and hit shots all round the wicket as a much-hyped clash turned into a lopsided contest.