Riddled with captain’s form, India look to make comeback in the second T20I

Harmanpreet Kaur © Getty Images

Fielding was improved. Blinders were taken. Radha Yadav’s record-streak was maintained. But India lost the rain-affected first T20I at the County Ground in Northampton by 18 runs. If they are to draw the multi-format series against England, they need to win the remaining two T20Is.

After a promising debut in the Test and ODI, Shafali Verma returned to her format of origin, only to lose another battle against England veteran Katherine Brunt in the very first over. The other opener, Smriti Mandhana, showed what she can do in the shortest format. And despite the loss of early wickets, India’s intent with the bat was impressive – in stark contrast to their approach through the series against South Africa.

Captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s form is currently the biggest worry for India. Her highest score on the tour, 19, came in the second ODI. Even with her health concerns, she holds an important position in the playing XI and the Indian team management will be hoping she is able to turn her form around quickly. Harleen Deol, playing her first match of the tour, played a patient innings and looks set to keep that number three spot in upcoming T20Is.

India currently have the luxury of having three wicket-keepers in the squad. The Indian management have entrusted Richa Ghosh with the gloves for the T20Is. Indrani Roy, the other wicketkeeper, was selected in the team for her performance in the List-A domestic competitions. It is unlikely she will be handed a debut in the next fixture.

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Apart from Shikha Pandey, India’s bowling unit looked helpless against English batters, especially, Natalie Sciver and Amy Jones. Poonam Yadav’s leg-spin has been India’s weapon in the middle overs for the past few years but, as Sciver admitted in the post-match press conference, England had done their research against her. Radha Yadav did continue her streak of taking wickets in 27 consecutive T20I innings, but she also got hit for six boundaries in three overs.

India’s bowling innings was highlighted by one of their best fielding performances in recent years. Diving catches, sprints to save boundaries and overall alertness in the field was wonderful to see. The time this team has spent under fielding coach Abhay Sharma is paying dividends and they will be keen to keep with those standards in the upcoming matches.

England, on the other hand, checked all the boxes in the rain-affected affair. Danielle Wyatt’s comeback to the side was short-lived but, in that, she proved she is one of the best openers in the world. There is no stopping Sciver right now, who currently is the highest run-scorer of this series with 239 runs across five innings. She was ably supported by Amy Jones in the first T20I who scored 43 runs off just 27 balls.

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Even after one of the best fielding displays from India, England managed to score 177 in 20 overs, which shows the depth they have developed over the years. The introduction of quality domestic competitions like the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and the Charlotte Edwards Cup have ensured the continuous flow of talented players into the English national side.

England’s bowlers have also benefitted from these competitions as the likes of Freya Davies and Mady Villiers showed in their first outing for England in the series. The ever-reliable Katherine Brunt, who is six wickets away from becoming the second English player after Anya Shrubsole to 100 T20I wickets, would want to earn that feat in the next two matches.

The second T20I provides opportunities to both sides. For England, it is to seal the multi-format series 10-4. For India, it is to live up to their expectations as the T20 World Cup runners-up. Will India manage to keep the series alive or will England seal the deal?