Swashbuckling Shafali Verma and spinners keep T20I series alive for India

Shafali Verma starred with the bat after which spinners stifled England. © Getty Images

Scintillating batting from Shafali Verma and some clinical bowling performance from the spinners helped India beat England by eight runs in the second T20I on Sunday (July 11) in Hove. With the win, India level the three-match T20I series 1-1, keeping the multi-format tournament alive.

England were cruising at 105 for two, needing 43 runs from 39 balls to win, with Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight in the middle. That’s when Deepti Sharma happened.

First, the allrounder trapped Beaumont in front of the stumps, appeal turned down, and India took a review. The impact was umpire’s call. The very next delivery, she did it again, and this time, the decision was in favour of India. Beaumont reviewed, and the ball was hitting the bails – umpire’s call. On the fifth delivery of the over, Amy Jones hit one straight to Sharma, and it deflected off her boot and hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end. Knight was caught short of the crease and had to take a long walk back.

With two new batters in the crease, India tried to sneak in an over off Harleen Deol. Jones took the attack on her by hitting her over the deep square-leg fence. However, another run out in the next over from Sharma meant that Sophia Dunkley was back in the pavilion. Harmanpreet Kaur brought Poonam Yadav back, and she delivered with the wicket of Jones. From 105 for two, England were down to 125 for six.

Sharma finished another over with a tidy spell of one for 18. Her impact in the match with the ball was more than what the wickets column shows. With 18 required from last two overs, Brunt succumbed to the pressure and nicked one off Yadav to Ghosh. Rana had 14 runs to defend in the final over of the innings. She conceded only five runs, securing an eight-run win for India. Rana finished wicketless, but she played a crucial role in India’s victory.

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Chasing seven and a half runs per over, India got the big wicket of Danielle Wyatt early as the opener tried to hit Arundhati Reddy over mid-off. The other opener Beaumont was in sublime form as she hit Pandey for back-to-back boundaries through the point region in the very next over.

However, Richa Ghosh produced a moment of brilliance to dismiss Natalie Sciver. She missed collecting a delivery from Pandey but ran back and completed a direct hit to catch Sciver short of the crease. Soon, Kaur brought Radha Yadav into the attack. Irrespective of the type of bowling, Indian bowlers were short and wide, in general to Beaumont, and she made the most of it. A couple of no-balls in the power play did not help their cause. England were going steady at 52 for two after six overs. When the leg-spinner, Yadav, came on to bowl, Beaumont used the crease to hit her behind square on either side of the wicket. Knight, too, brought out her sweeps and the reverses to score the crucial boundaries. Beaumont brought up her ninth T20I half-century before getting out to Sharma for 59 runs from 50 balls.

After put in to bat first by Knight, Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma got India off to a racing start. The duo hit a boundary each of Katherine Brunt in the very second over. When Knight brought Sophie Ecclestone into the attack, Verma welcomed her with a slog sweep through mid-wicket and followed it up with a bigger one over the boundary. Brunt came back for her second over as the contest between her and Verma was brewing. This time, the 17-year-old got the better of the veteran seamer. She pulled Brunt through mid-wicket, cut to the square-point boundary, slapped down the ground, and lofted over long-on for five consecutive boundaries. Brunt conceded 21 runs in that over. India were going strong at 47 for nil after four overs.

When Verma tried to hit Sciver down the ground in the next over, the allrounder could not hold on to a return catch. However, she was able to keep things quiet by giving away just two runs. Ecclestone came back and bowled a brilliant maiden to Verma. After the power play, India had slowed down a bit to 49 for nil. Brought in to break the partnership, Freya Davies was able to keep the run-rate down as Verma and Mandhana were not able to hit any boundaries of her. It did not take too long for the Indian openers to put India back on track as Mandhana ran down the pitch and lofted Sarah Glenn over long-on.

Trying to play a similar shot against Davies, Mandhana mistimed a loft and was caught by Mady Villiers at mid-off. Promoting herself up the order, Harmanpreet Kaur joined Verma in the middle. But the partnership did not last long as Verma tried to get under a Villiers’ delivery that was too full to play the slog-sweep and holed out to Sciver at long-on for 48 runs from 38 balls. India were 72 for two when Verma got out.

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What followed was a period of tight bowling from England. Sharma and Kaur were not able to rotate the strike or pick up the boundaries to keep the innings going. In the 21 balls since Mandhana’s wicket, India managed to score only six runs. The release shot came from the skipper as she jumped out of the crease and hit Villiers over deep mid-wicket. Kaur followed it up with a cut to the cover-point boundary off Glenn. Meanwhile, Sharma was struggling to get innings going, building the pressure on Kaur. After 15 overs, India were going at 102 for two.

Kaur, who had not been in the greatest of forms, hit back-to-back boundaries off Glenn to get the innings going in the final few overs. She had raced to 31 from 24 balls after a slow start. However, Kaur played one shot too many in the same over as she tried to hit Glenn over extra cover where Brunt ran in from long-on to take a diving catch.

Ghosh’s innings did not last long as Sciver took a brilliant return catch to dismiss the teenager. Knight brought back Ecclestone and Brunt to bowl in the death overs. Some late boundaries from Sharma and Rana helped India get closer to the 150-run mark. They finished with 148 for four after 20 overs. Villiers finished with one for nine in her two overs. Ecclestone was the pick of the bowlers for England despite not taking any wickets.

Brief Scores: India 148/4 in 20 overs (Shafali Verma 48, Mady Villiers 1/9) beat England 140/8 (Tammy Beaumont 59, Poonam Yadav 2/17) by eight runs. POTM: Deepti Sharma