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Commonwealth Games: India hammer in the last nail in semi-final after English brain-freeze early run-out – Firstcricket News, Firstpost


Never look a gift horse in the mouth and never let a team get away with a brain freeze. The Indian women did not let England off from a massive run-out mistake early in the inning to make the final of the Commonwealth Games 2022 cricket tournament, with a hard-fought four-run win.

The English batters began like a runaway train but one particular moment of the match, when one-down batter Alice Capsey went for a second run and floundered, giving India a real toe into the door, which they then pushed open with grit to send the home ladies to the third-place match. A match that could have gone either way till then, never went the English way again.

Chasing India’s 164, with Smriti Mandhana (61 off 32) once against putting the pedal to the metal and Jemimah Rodrigues contributing a brave 44 not out of 31, England were off to a brisk start with Sophie Dunkley and Danielle Wyatt and 28/1 after 2.4 overs, till Dunkley was dismissed, and even beyond, to 63/1 in 6.1 overs, England looked more than being just on par.

But then came the second delivery of the 7th over, and what should have been innocuous single ended up in disaster for England. Capsey played one down to short third-man and got and single. She then turned and ran for the second, even as wicketkeeper Taniya Bhatia had already collected the throw from short third-man. Capsey went off without seeing where the ball was, while Wyatt held her ground. By the time the non-striker turned, it was all over, thanks to Taniya’s simple throw to bowler Sneh Rana.

That was it. From 63/2, England never recovered, were always behind the asking rate and even some late heroics from Amy Jones were to no avail.

Three run-outs, including that of skipper Natalie Sciver (41) and Jones showed the kind of pressure England were under.

While India will revel in this win, there is no such thing as a perfect victory and the Indian game did leave several gaps. Some of them could have been critical, or still can be.

The batting is top-heavy, with Smriti Mandhana being the lynchpin when it comes to scoring quickly. But the worry is that Shafali Verma seems to have gone off the boil, which is a concern.

India clattered 76 runs off 7.4 overs but then Verma departed with an underwhelming 15 off 17 and soon after that, the effervescent Mandhana, whose 61 had three sixes and eight boundaries, too went.

For one, there is a dire need to address the loss of quick wickets. While one can understand Mandhana’s approach, this has been a little issue with India for a while and needs to be rectified soon.

Harmanpreet Kaur, who led the team like a champion while fielding, was a little off the boil too, with her 20 off 20 balls not quite how she’d like to play. While Jemimah Rodrigues has taken to the No.3 position like duck to water, the combination between her and the captain needs the latter to handle the power hitting, which she is so adept at. Rodrigues has the heart, but not the arms, to cart cricket balls over the ropes.

But she did her bit, while Deepti Sharma too chipped in, having made the ‘Dilscoop’ or the ramp shot quite an art.

Chasing 164 was a job, as was evident from the way the English went after the bowling. Here too there are some problems.

Renuka Singh Thakur, quite the revelation with the new ball, was sent to all parts today and Harmanpreet smartly opted for the slower bowlers much sooner. The spinners by and large bowled well but somehow, none of them ever seemed to target the stumps, especially as the English became frantic.

Keeping the ball straight and true as the run rate increases. The pressure forces unorthodox stuff and that can create options for wickets. The Indian bowlers were peppered through the off-side almost throughout the second inning as they kept a outside off-stump and wider line. There may be some plan, especially to keep the ball away from the swing over mid-wicket, but in terms of the frequency of runs being conceded, didn’t quite work well.

It was just as well that the close-in fielding was on point when it mattered most and three run-outs put the wrench in the works for the English team.

A good win, and India also exorcised the ghost of that league loss, where they almost had England in the bag. This one was in a semi-final, so as a win, it avenged all and more.

Now for the final. India need their A game, and some of the glitches of the semi need to be sorted out right away. This team could still spring another delight.

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