Mandhana mayhem, bowlers help India win thrilling semi-final against England

Mandhana (L) amd Rana (R) © Getty Images

Smriti Mandhana scored a sensational half-century and exceptional bowling efforts from India took them to the Gold Medal match of the Commonwealth Games at Edgbaston on Saturday (August 6). The thrilling match saw India beat England by just four runs. 

Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur won the toss and opted to bat first with the unchanged playing XI. Mandhana started with a spectacular drive, which cleared the mid-off fielder to register the first boundary of the innings. England’s stand-in captain Natalie Sciver handed the ball to young off spinner Alice Capsey, but that experiment cost 12 runs to the hosts. Katherine Brunt and Issy Wong could not stop the flow of runs as Mandhana took them on in in the power play. 

Sciver used five bowlers, including herself, but England did not get a breakthrough in the power play. Mandhana pounced on every opportunity to take India to the highest power play score in the Commonwealth Games of 64. Such was the hitting by India’s vice-captain that she broke her own record to register the fastest half-century by an Indian.

While Mandhana kept smashing the opposition, Shafali Verma supported her but could not get her innings going. Left-arm pacer Freya Kemp broke the partnership to give England a sigh of relief. Mandhana soon followed Verma as she tried to go over the short fine-leg. Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues took the innings forward with the intent before Maia Bouchier’s diving catch at deep square-leg cut short Kaur’s innings after she hit the previous ball for a six.

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The left and right combination of Deepti Sharma and Rodrigues calmly kept the scoreboard going to take India past 150 in the penultimate over. Rodrigues was aggressive among the pair, while Sharma was impressive with her running between the wicket. Inda lost Sharma and Pooja Vastrakar in the final over of the innings, but managed to reach their highest score in this competition.

England’s run chase got off to a great start as the opening pair of  Sophia Dunkley and Danielle Wyatt smashed 15 runs in the first over. They backed it up with the nine runs in the next over. Dunkley’s aggression came undone when Sharma trapped her in front for 19. That did not stop Wyatt as she smashed Meghna Singh for 14 runs in the very next over. The evenly poised power play saw England score 58 runs and the hosts needed 107 runs to win the clash.

Kaur introduced Sneh Rana immediately after the power play. A slight misjudgment from Capsey was enough for Taniya Bhatia to run the teenager out in the seventh over. Wyatt and Sciver looked poised to rebuild the innings after Capsey’s wicket, but Rana bowled Wyatt to end an entertaining knock. India slowed things down with the overs of spin, but the experienced duo of Jones and Sciver started reconstructing the innings. 

The pair added 54 runs for the fourth wicket before Jones was run out at the non-striker’s end trying to steal a run that wasn’t there. Rana bowled a magnificent 18th over and gave away just three runs to build the pressure on the hosts. Sciver deposited a pull over deep square-leg in the penultimate over to give England a fighting chance, but she too was dismissed when Mandhana ran her out with a throw from the deep.

With only three fielders at the boundary – India were penalised for over rate, Rana bowled an exceptional final over and conceded only nine runs to take India over the line and  to the final of the competition.

Brief Scores: India 164/5 in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 61, Jemimah Rodrigues 44; Freya Kemp 2/22) beat England 160/6 in 20 overs (Natalie Sciver 41, Danielle Wyatt 35; Sneh Rana 2/28) by four runs