The atmosphere was unlike anything seen in recent times for a women’s game. The queues into Lord’s were long and noisy as cheers for the players rang out and the home of cricket, making an exception, allowed fans to carry drums. The stands were packed – and for a game between England, the home side, and India, the support among the 27,000-odd crowd was equally matched. The buzz on Sunday was fitting for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 final.
Also fitting was that the leading One-Day International wicket-taker, at 34, likely playing her last World Cup, rose to the occasion to produce one of her best spells in a long career.
Jhulan Goswami’s 3 for 23, which included three maidens and a period of 10 balls during which she took three wickets, kept England to 228 for 7 in its 50 overs.
Her two wickets in two balls, first to send back Sarah Taylor and end a dangerous fourth-wicket partnership, and then to have Fran Wilson out first ball, helped India pull things back just when it seemed England was edging ahead.
Taylor had added 83 with Natalie Sciver to lead an England recovery from 63 for 3, when she edged behind to the wicketkeeper.
Wilson received a yorker first ball, and couldn’t get her pads out of the way as England slipped to 146 for 5 in the 33rd over.
Goswami returned in the batting power play with a change of ends, to have Sciver out to another lbw while coming down the track.
Earlier, after England chose to bat, the veteran pacer was on point with the new ball, getting two maidens in her first spell. Shikha Pandey, though, bowling from the Pavilion End, couldn’t find her line and was punished.
Lauren Winfield, coming into the final on the back of a poor tournament, welcomed Rajeshwari Gayakwad with three fours in the eighth over. Having quickly moved to 22, she was given out lbw off Goswami, before a review overturned the decision as DRS put the ball going down leg.
Tammy Beaumont too got a life when Sushma Verma couldn’t hold on to an edge. The England openers added 43 in the power play, giving England a handy platform.
A period of spin, though, triggered a mini collapse where England lost three wickets for 16 runs. Gayakwad, the left-arm spinner, returning to bowl over the wicket, maintained a leg-stump line and was rewarded when she clipped the bails to send Winfield back. Beaumont attacked a full toss in Poonam Yadav’s first over only to find Goswami between deep mid-wicket and square leg.
In Poonam’s second, Heather Knight attempted a sweep, only to be trapped in front by one that kept straight. It took a smart review from Mithali Raj for the wicket to be given. At that point, Poonam (2 for 36) had taken two wickets for one run over five balls.
Taylor and Sciver steadily rebuilt, showing good application against spin and getting increasingly comfortable with their feet. Sciver was brutal when going straight over the bowlers’ head. She brought up her fifty in 65 balls with a single.
With her gone right after the milestone, it was down to Katherine Brunt and Jenny Gunn, another pair of veterans, to lift England to a challenging total. Deepti Sharma’s direct throw from mid-off to the striker’s end ended Brunt’s innings at 35 and the stand at 32.
As so many times before in this tournament, England’s tail-enders showed they can bat. Gunn remained not out on 25 while Laura Marsh added 14 off her 11. They ran in a hurry when the boundaries weren’t coming, and pushed England to a total that in a final will demand a special effort from the Indian batters.