Danni Wyatt returned to form at a crucial moment with an unbeaten 89 from 56 balls to lead England to an eight-wicket win against India in the third T20 at Chelmsford. The victory earned England an overall win in the multiformat series, 10-6 on points.
Wyatt’s half-century, brought up in just 33 balls, was her first for her country since December 2019. Though she has scored three fifties in four innings in the 50-over domestic Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy in 2021, she nonetheless struck the ball more sweetly at Chelmsford than she has done all season, dancing down the track to dispatch spinners Poonam Yadav and Radha Yadav down the ground before bringing up her fifty by whipping Shikha Pandey through point in the 12th over.
“I’ve always encouraged her to try and play her natural game,” captain Heather Knight said. “We want her to be positive and aggressive and take the game away from teams like we know she can. To see her play like that tonight was a massive boost for her and will give her confidence.”
Nat Sciver, named player of the series, for once played second fiddle to Wyatt with the bat, falling eight runs short of a half-century of her own as she was bowled by Sneh Rana attempting the pull.
Wyatt, though, knocked off the remaining 22 runs with ease, heaving Deepti Sharma for a six over deep square leg then sweeping her for four to seal the deal with eight balls remaining.
Sciver’s standout contribution had on this occasion come during India’s innings, which saw them post 153 for 6, their highest T20 score in England, despite having been 13 for 2 in the fourth over.
Smriti Mandhana hammered 70 from 51 balls, and was joined by captain Harmanpreet Kaur (36 from 26) in a 68-run partnership for the third wicket. The pair pummelled the England bowlers around the ground: Harmanpreet dismayed the Essex crowd by walloping local girl Mady Villiers back over her head for six, before Mandhana lofted Freya Davies over long-off for another maximum.
Only Sciver withstood the onslaught, conceding only 16 runs from her four overs and finally trapping Harmanpreet leg-before in the 13th over. Sciver then pulled off an excellent diving catch at deep midwicket to see off Mandhana, though it did not stop India wrapping up the innings in destructive fashion as Richa Ghosh clubbed 20 from 13 balls to ensure England’s target topped 150.
India, though, ultimately paid the price for a quiet powerplay in which they hit just 28 runs and lost two wickets into the bargain. Katherine Brunt notably came out on top in her series-long tussle with Shafali Verma, dismissing her for a duck for the second time in five days, the teenager bowled chopping on to her own stumps.
“It’s the culmination of five weeks hard work,” Knight said of the series win. “We’ve been in a semi-bubble for that time, so there’s a few tired people around – today was a real show of character that we were able to put in that performance under pressure.”