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World Cup final: Moments that mattered

Poonam’s grit, Shrubsole’s six were among the highlights, but there were other significant moments too.

The 2017 Women’s World Cup in England was exceptional, and it could not have had a better final at the Lord’s Cricket Ground in London on Sunday. In front of a sea of humanity, the game swung like a pendulum before England held its nerve to beat India by nine runs. We look back at the critical phases of play, eventually resulting in England winning its fourth title.

England’s early intent

England stuck to the unspoken code of knockout games – ‘win the toss and bat first’ – and showed intent immediately. With Shikha Pandey, bowling from the Member’s Stand end, wayward with the line, Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield capitalised. They hit four fours each in the first 10 overs as England put on 43 for no loss before the field restrictions were lifted. It was just six runs less than England’s average score in the power play during the group stage. Rajeshwari Gayakwad, the left-arm spinner, replaced Pandey in the eighth over, and the duo dominated her too. After she was driven for a boundary, Mithali Raj pushed the cover fielder back. Then, Winfield, who practiced the sweep at the nets in Nursery Ground before play started, used the shot to good effect for two fours to fine-leg.

The defining partnership

India struck back with three wickets, and at one time Poonam Yadav’s figures read 2-0-3-2. Sarah Taylor and Natalie Sciver did not allow her any more wickets after that. With the mid-on inside, Sciver made her intention clear very early in her innings when she stepped out to hit Deepti Sharma straight over her head. Because she is so strong straight of the wicket, at one point Raj had a mid-on and a wide long-on in place.

Taylor went about her task effortlessly at the other end, and the running between the wickets was very good. They targeted the right fielders in the outfield to run their twos. For example, they knew Harmanpreet Kaur could only throw underarm because of the shoulder injury sustained during the semifinal against Australia. With the spinners easily being read, Raj brought back pace Pandey in the 27th over – first over of pace in 18 overs. With mid-off up, Taylor hit one straight past the fielder to the fence to bring the 50-run stand.

Goswami’s dream spell

Taylor and Sciver were threatening to run away with the game before Goswami broke the partnership. Brought back in the 31st over, she struck twice in two balls in the 33rd over. First Sushma Verma caught Taylor’s faint edge on the legside to end the 83-run stand. Off her next ball, she pinned Fran Wilson on the pads for a golden duck. Both the deliveries were bowled on to the body to disallow the batters any room. She missed a hat-trick, but changed ends to come in the 36th over at the start of the power play and dismissed Sciver for 51. Sciver came down the track to flick her through midwicket only to miss the line and be given leg before wicket. Goswami was done by the 40th over with figures of 10-3-23-3.

“When I came for the second spell, I realised that they were using the crease much, particularly Sarah Taylor was shuffling and trying to play on the onside,” Goswami said. “I was trying to bowl fuller and (make her) play straight.”

The late order runs

With India’s main threat out of the way, Katherine Brunt, Jenny Gunn and Laura Marsh batted sensibly against the spinners to add 60 runs in the last ten overs. With the pitch a bit slow, they were happy to play a high number of dot balls against the spinners with a straight bat, and pick up the odd boundary. Pandey bowled a good 46th over, in which Brunt fell to a direct hit from Deepti at cover. That gave Raj confidence to give Pandey another over instead of Deepti. Her pace worked in favour of Gunn and Marsh. Gunn slog swept the first ball of the 48th over from outside off-stump to the midwicket fence. So, Raj sent fine-leg back and brought in the sweeper fielder inside. Marsh used the gap by stepping out and driving Pandey to the cover fence as England set themselves up for their eventual total of 228 for 7.

Error in judgment proves costly

After Anya Shrubsole got an away-swinger to go between Smriti Mandhana’s bat and pad gap, Poonam Raut and Mithali Raj consolidated well through a 38-run stand. They took their chances to push the fielder back, but against the run of play in the first ball of the 13th over Raut played Marsh to short midwicket and called Raj. Taylor collected Sciver’s pick up and throw in front of the stumps and did the needful at the batting end. Raj, who was in supreme touch and finished one short from equalling Tammy Beaumont as the tournament’s highest run-getter, was way short.

Shrubsole’s death knell

Raut and Kaur, who received treatment a few times on her shoulder, rotated the strike well after settling down and took a few risks to spread the field out. Just when they were starting to get into the groove, Kaur’s top-edge off a sweep went straight to the fine-leg fielder, ending the 95-run stand. That allowed the spinners to slowly strengthen their grip over proceedings despite Raut adding 53 with an aggressive Veda Krishnamurthy. Gunn, Marsh and Hartley played a big role in reducing the equation to 47 off the last eight overs when Shrubsole returned for her seventh over.

Shrubsole bowled at a quicker pace than in her first spell and targeted the stumps. It forced the batters to create shots. With the off-side field quite packed, runs dried up. She got Raut leg before wicket, but the biggest blow in the context came in her eighth over when Veda played a heave from outside off-stump only for Sciver to take a skier at midwicket. Jhulan Goswami, Deepti Sharma and Rajeshwari Gayakwad fell to her as she finished with figures of 6 for 46 to bowl India out for 219 in 48.4 overs. She picked up her last five wickets for 11 runs in 19 balls.

 

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