Indian women whitewash England 3-0 at the Home of Cricket
Cricket came a full circle at its home as the Women in Blue braved insurmountable odds, toppling the hosts in their very impregnable fort as they swept the English clean off their feet, inflicting a resonating win that would reverberate for ages to come.
There was a poetic moment of brilliance to cap things off where the world was once again split up in determining who was right and who was wrong while the Indian women basked in exultant celebrations.
England won the toss and opted to bat first. India’s top-order woes continued as Shafali Verma and Yastika Bhatia departed for ducks, allowing England to conjure an early trail of dominion that extended by leaps and bounds when Cross struck for the third time to remove Harmanpreet Kaur for cheap as India wobbled at 17 for 3.
Much to India’s woes, they lost Harleen Deol too in very short succession as Smriti Mandhana stayed witness to relentless destruction from the famished hosts, occasionally pitching in with a boundary or two, hoping to get an anchor at the other end. Despite the flurry of wickets, the resistance that was desperately craved for by Mandhana came in the form of Deepti Sharma who produced a very special knock to steer India clear of any ignominy on the cards.
The duo put together a 58-run partnership before Cross came back to claim her fourth and most importantly the big fish of Smriti Mandhana. It needed another resolute display from Pooja Vastrakar after Dayalan Hemlathan fell for just a couple of runs. Vastrakar and Deepti Sharma posted an instrumental synergy of 40 runs that helped India pile up a warring total of 169 on a surface that had its own magic.
Despite a watchful start, England couldn’t walk a mile without losing a wicket as Renuka Singh drew first blood to remove Emma Lamb before returning for another over to cannon through the defences of Tamsin Beaumont that saw her stumps in shatters.
Even before the hosts could realize what had struck them, India was already calling the shots and Renuka Singh pumped out another blistering masterclass claiming four crucial scalps on the day where history would be penned.
With so much said and done, it was Jhulan Goswami’s final day out in the field as a cricketer as she bade adieu to the sport that she loved so dearly after a staggering two decades where the batters were terrorized.
While Renuka Singh continued calling the shots, Goswami produced the crucial scalp of Alice Capsey as the latter holed out Harleen Deol, trying to find the aerial route over the fielders in the circle. The medium pace of the towering Indian quick was a bit too much for the latter to get into a proper groove for the strike.
England was tottering at 65 for the loss of 7 at one point in time where skipper Amy Jones and all-rounder Charlie Dean put up a searing partnership that saw them coming together in a desperate enterprise to grind out a consolation victory.
Despite the fall of Amy Jones, Dean continued with her resilience, hoping to find someone to anchor the show at the other end, even if it was just playing out until she got back on strike. In a surprising manner, the last partnership surged to a battling 35 runs that placed England en route to their much-desired win only when the unthinkable unfolded.
With Deepti Sharma in her bowling stride, Dean was miles away from her popping crease, hoping to steal a quick run to get back on strike. The Indian all-rounder who had already savoured an excellent day with the bat, used her aquiline reflexes to stop in her tracks and turn around to dislodge the bails, which left England in shock and the Indian dugout in arrant exhilaration.
Well, the Home of cricket played host to some seraphic duel of the willow and the leather complemented perfectly by the high-octane drama and a befitting swansong to one of cricket’s most eminent fast bowlers for the last 20 years. It was absolute chaos at the Lord’s and history bowed down to some brilliant scripting that the Indian women had to offer a thousand miles away from home.