Mithali Raj: “I knew that I never give up in the middle, I just needed one good partnership to keep it going. I knew that in the middle overs I can always manage the game, and as a player I always enjoy chasing as I can build the innings around and take the game forward. You can’t win the game sitting in the dug-out.”
Heather Knight: “A little bit of disappointment, a really good game, a few runs short, a slow wicket, great crowd. Really tricky to get boundaries. Nice to be tested, haven’t been for a little bit.”
And as the rain thunders down outside my window, that’s it for today. The OBO team will be back tomorrow with the men’s game, the women will be back on Friday. A wonderful performance from Mithali Raj - supreme composure and timing - backed up by Mandhana and her spinners. Have a wonderful evening, whatever happens in Rome. Goodnight!
That was glorious! Such a thrill to see a competitive game and Raj, for all the criticism she has borne over this little mini-series for the speed of her run-scoring, played a blinder. Does any woman unfurl a more judicious, more juicy, cover-drive?
The teams go into the T20 series (which starts at Northampton on Friday) with England leading 6:4. At Worcester, they are presenting the awards. Mithali Raj is player of the match; Sophie Ecclestone is the player of the series.
India win by four wickets with three balls to spare!
46.3 overs: India 220-6 (Raj 75, Goswami 1) Whose experience will count for more? Brunt’s? Raj’s? Goswami’s? It’s Raj! Six from six became four from four and then Raj threads the hole in the needle with a sumptuous cover-drive! Goswami gives her a friendly pat and with the cathedral in the background, they stroll off. The series is alive!
46th over: India 214-6 (Raj 70, Goswami 0) It’s Ecclestone with the penultimate over. One from the first through mid-off, Raj lofts the next through cover and they pick two, another single from Rana; Raj charges the next which rockets past Kate Cross for four. Then the wicket! Six needed from the last over!
WICKET! Rana b Ecclestone 24 (India 214-6)
Tries to sweep! And is bowled by Ecclestone’s last ball of the match. Smashing innings which breathed new life in the match - 24 from 22 balls. Now now!
45th over: India 206-5 (Raj 67, Rana 19) A gamble on Brunt. Will it work? England are nervous, sloppy in the field. India are swiping at every ball - they take six singles - hearts pumping round the field. 14 needed from 12 balls.
44th over: India 200-5 (Raj 64, Rana 16) Raj has a go! And off it flies, over extra cover, absolutely pings it. FOUR! And another, Rana, straight, screams past the stumps and past a diving Kate Cross. Now overthrows! England are rattled. England need 20 off 18 balls!
43rd over: India 188-5 (Raj 59, Rana 11) Knight gambles on Ecclestone now. It works - just. The last ball flies off the bat, past Jones and down for a couple of byes. Six from the over. Lovely and tight! India need 32 from four overs.
42ndover: India 182-5 (Raj 56, Rana 10) Rana throws the bat at Sciver and lofts her straight, but it is cut off by Kate Cross - a fumble would have brought a precious four. They pick up singles but a smashing bit of fielding from Sarah Glenn at short fine leg stops a boundary. Oh dear, that’s unlucky. Glenn dives for the catch from the final delivery as Rana sweeps but the ball bounces just in front of her fingers, through her body and down to the boundary.
India need 38 from 30 balls
Fifty for Mithali Raj!
41st over: India 173-5 (Raj 53, Rana 3) Raj scores the first fifty of the match with a pull through mid-wicket for four and then sends the ball flying through the covers where it is well fielded by Fran Wilson, who cuts off the boundary. We watch as Raj counts the fielders on the off side, her big eyes absorbing the field. Another couple of singles all add up to nine from the over.
40th over: India 165-5 (Raj 46, Rana 1) Sciver does the trick with her second ball, a clever bit of bowling, well disguised slower ball, which brings in Rana who has a highest score of 12. Raj now needs to go against all her instincts and search for the killer blow.
WICKET! Sharma c and b Sciver 18 (India 164-5)
An off cutter! Tried to turn a slower ball to leg and got a leading edge sweetly back to Sciver.
39th over: India 162-4 (Raj 46, Sharma 16) On one knee slam-damn! Sharma sends the ball flying over midwicket for four. Sharma angles the next into the covers for a single. Raj picks up another single - is she leaving the big hitting to Sharma? No just a single off the next.
38th over: India 155-4 (Raj 45, Sharma 10) Glenn gets away with a couple of shortish balls and they picks five from the over.
37th over: India 150-4 (Raj 42, Sharma 8) A dab down to fine-leg brings four from Brunt’s first ball. A wide, a fist-full of singles, a full-toss which is swept just short of the rope and they only take one. Sharma accidentally barges into Brunt who remonstrates with character.
India have only chased more than this to beat England once, at Lord’s.
36th over: India 140-4 (Raj 35, Sharma 6)Have India decided they’re going to do it in singles? Interesting tactic! Sharma and Raj chat at the end of Glenn’s over - there has only been one boundary in the last 12 overs - rather like England’s 16-over drought mid innings.
35th over: India 135-4 (Raj 33, Sharma 3) Ah, so we’ve gone back to pace. Brunt, who was quite expensive in her first spell, fires in. Sharma sweeps for a singe, Raj tips her to backward square, Sharma drives through cover. Three from the over, but it is not enough: seven an over now required.
34th over: India 132-4 (Raj 32, Sharma 1) Knight makes the breakthrough, though it turns out that had Kaur reviewed the decision would have been overturned. My captain, my captain (and her dodgy advice) might not be very popular when she returns to the dressing-room.
The players take a quick beverage...
WICKET! Kaur lbw 16 Knight (India 131-4)
Another (relative) failure for Kaur who tries to squeeze runs by reverse-sweeping and gets in a terrible tangle and is hit low on the pad.
33rd over: India 130-3 (Raj 31, Kaur 16) Ecclestone starts with three throat-grabbing dots and just two come from the over. This is a fantastic game of cat and mouse. At the moment, Cat is on top.
32nd over: India 128-3 (Raj 30, Kaur 15) Knight is proving difficult to get to the boundary, but relatively easy to pick off for singles. They all count. Three from it and India are two runs behind the DRS score. The required run rate is now six an over.
31st over: India 125-3 (Raj 25, Kaur 13) One blond ponytail replaces another as Glenn is switched for Ecclestone. Raj, dances, lofts Ecclestone over mid on and to the rope. India need 95 from 96 balls.
30th over: India 120-3 (Raj 25, Kaur 12) The sun shines through the bars of Kaur’s helmet, illuminating her eyes. Steely. Three potter from Knight’s over, including a wide. England rather generous with their extras so far today.
29th over: India 117-3 (Raj 24, Kaur 11) This feels like the calm before the storm, India doing what they’ve not managed to do previously and just pick up runs without too much effort. Three leg byes from that over but they all count.
28th over: India 110-3 (Raj 22, Kaur 10) Heather Knight brings herself on, huge blue sweatband on her left arm. Harmanpreet sweeps and they pick up seven from the over, including a wide . And the rain that was promised still hasn’t fallen. In fact the sun seems to be shining as brightly as ever over Worcestershire. Tall, thin, solid shadows decorate the pitch.
27th over: India 105-3 (Raj 20, Kaur 8) Glenn is through her over before you can scratch that itch. Raj and Kaur squeeze her for four singles - this is more like it from India: intent.
26th over: India 101-3 (Raj 18, Kaur 6) Ah! That’s more like it from Kaur, dispatched through point for a couple. They milk Sciver quite successfully there, six from it as alpine cow bells are run by the crowd.
At a similar stage, Engand were 115-3.
25th over: India 95-3 (Raj 17, Kaur 1) Glenn, left arm horizontal to the ground as she bowls. They can’t get her away. Just two singles from it. And with every dot, the pressure grows.
24th over: India 93-3 (Raj 16, Kaur 0) And Raj goes over the top again, this time against Sciver, she takes a long stride and lifts the ball up and over for four. And with that she becomes the highest ever scorer in women’s international cricket, over taking Charlotte Edwards. Just one more from the over - is Mithali deliberately stealing the strike from the off-key Kaur?
23rd over: India 88-3 (Raj 11, Kaur 0) Raj eyes up a mid-up and mid-on that have been drawn in and heel-toes down the pitch and deposits Glenn for four. Just a single from the rest though. Kaur doesn’t inspire confidence.
22nd over: India 83-3 (Raj 6, Kaur 0) Knight takes advantage of the wicket to bring on Sciver. They only manage to pick up a single, topped up by a wide. These two got bogged down in the last match - a n off-note Kaur and a steady-as-she-goes Raj. Someone is going to have to have a ping. The cameras pan back and we see filthy skies draw over the ground. Rain must be imminent.
21st over: India 81-3 (Raj 4, Kaur 0) Glenn strikes in her first over! A uncharacteristic mistake from Mandhana who had played so fluently, not a poke to be seen.
WICKET! Mandhana lbw Glenn 49 (India 81-3)
The big one! Keeps low, doesn’t turn, and splats into Mandhana’s pad as she swishes aimlessly across the line.
20th over: India 79-2 (Raj 4, Mandhana 48) Ecclestone light-blue long sleeved top, long blond ponytail shiny and so brushed, like a show pony. Tucks a maiden into her pocket and walks away.
19th over: India 79-2 (Raj 4, Mandhana 48) Mandhana eases the ball, kisses it, wraps it in rose-flavoured tissue, off her legs and through mid-wicket where it hops over the rope. A wide and a couple more make that uncharacteristically expensive from Cross: 7 off it. According to DRS, India are just ahead of the game.
18th over: India 72-2 (Raj 4, Mandhana 42) Utterly distracted by the doorbell and the entrance of a sweaty child. One run from Ecclestone’s over.
17th over: India 71-2 (Raj 4, Mandhana 41) Raj off the mark with a charming leg-glance off Cross. Can she afford to play her anchor role today? Cross delivers five dots in between.
16th over: India 65-2 (Raj 0, Mandhana 40) Rodrigues put out of her misery by Ecclestone, who’d looked furious that her caught behind-lbw shout had been unrewarded . Raj arrives, and needs just 12 runs to overtake Charlotte Edwards as the all-format leading run scorer.
WICKET! Rodrigues b Ecclestone 4 (India 66-2)
Extraordinary! The ball after escaping a caught behind review by England (and only escaping an lbw on umpire’s call), Rodrigues chops onto her leg stump!
15th over: India 65-1 (Rodrigues 4, Mandhana 39) And India struggle against Cross again, unable to pick up more than a single here, a single there. Even Mandhana can’t time it quite right.
14th over: India 62-1 (Rodrigues 3, Mandhana 37) A sudden oasis for India, as Mandhana drives past a statuesque Ecclestone at mid-off for four. Rodrigues stays stranded in single figure.
13th over: India 55-1 (Rodrigues 2, Mandhana 31) Cross has discipline as well as the not-given lbw. They pinch just a couple from the end of the over as grey clouds creep over Worcester.
Inside edge indeed.
REVIEW! Rodrigues lbw Cross
Is there inside edge in that? Given out on the field, but Rodrigues reviews...
12th over: India 53-1 (Rodrigues 1, Mandhana 30) Mandhana throws the bat and biffs right back over Ecclestone’s head for four. Ecclestone, pink-rimmed sunglasses, and cheeks covered in sun-cream, takes a deep breath at the top of her run and runs through the rest of her repertoire. Cautious India pat away.
11th over: India 47-1 (Rodrigues 0, Mandhana 25) Cross, hair tied back in a loose bun, pistons in. She’s tight, apart from a wide which is snaffled neatly by Amy Jones - and that’s the only run from the over.
10th over: India 46-1 (Rodrigues 0, Mandhana 25) Ecclestone races through the first maiden of the innings.
9th over: India 46-1 (Rodrigues 0, Mandhana 25) England’s woman of the moment Kate Cross is given the nod. Can she dam the flow? Yes! The fourth ball is slam-damned over cover for four, but Verma can’t resist the fifth!
WICKET! Verma c Knight b Cross 19 (India 46-1)
Verma dollies a full bunger from Cross to cover. Verma throws her bat away in disgust as Knight collects the catch. Just as she was starting to motor...
8th over: India 42-0 (Verma 15, Mandhana 25) This young Indian pair getting stuck in! Mandhana takes eight from the over. A cover drive and a cut, glorious of course - does she do it any other way. Irritation lingers over Shrubsole’s face.
7th over: India 34-0 (Verma 15, Mandhana 17) A smashing bit of fielding from Sophia Dunkley on the boundary cuts off a four towards fine leg . Verma ducks a revenge-Brunt bouncer, right down on her haunches, full frog style. But she gets he eye in on the final ball, dancing slightly rightwards and golf-club-stylee stamping the ball over mid-on for four
6th over: India 28-0 (Verma 10, Mandhana 16) Shrubsole tidies up after Brunt, singles only. A chip from Mandhana flies just past an earthbound Shrubsole, it might have brushed the fingertips of a more bouncy fielder.
5th over: India 25-0 (Verma 8, Mandhana 15) Mandhana spies a ball that will sit up nicely, she turns on the axel of her foot and in a small space pulls it round the corner for four. Another follows, through the covers, honey and cake. Brunt slips in her follow-through and, as she sees the ball cross the rope, slumps her head on the dust. A third four, an outside edge that flies through the gaps, comes from the last.
4th over: India 12-0 (Verma 7, Mandhana 3) Shrubsole has a very expressive face, scowls at the ball as if any misdirection is purely its fault. Two wides in a row. But Verma and Mandhana don’t press the launch button and pick up just a couple of singles.
3rd over: India 8-0 (Verma 6, Mandhana 2) Brunt gazes at the white ball in her hand at the end of her run, such a gorgeous young thing, throws her whole body into the action as if she’s on a car assembley line. She’s on the button, and just one from the over.
2nd over: India 7-0 (Verma 6, Mandhana 1) Verma has a ping at a stray ball from Shrubsole and she edges it up but just spare of third man. Mandhana delicately picks up a single, then Verma drives through the off side and shovels Shrubsole for four.
India need 220 to win in 47 overs
1st over: India 1-0 (Verma 1, Mandhana 0 ) Bright sunshine now at gorgeous Worcester. Brunt beats Verma with her third ball, and her fourth, coaxing her towards the ball and beating her outside the off stump. She looks uneasy somehow. Picks a single off the last ball to grab the strike.
At the start of the innings, India needed to score at 4.68 an over.
Here come the players, refreshed!
Thanks Geoff! As he retires to his darkened room and pulls on the eye mask, there is a picnic hamper of treats for the rest of us to look forward to before another event kicks off at 8pm. For now, all eyes to Worcester, where England have a bit more of a fight on their hands than they’ve been used to this summer.
We think, think, that their score is a little under par- though the sluggish pitch will be drying out as we speak. Should Shafali Verma or Harmanpreet Kaur get stuck in, and not suffer the boundary drought that blighted England’s effort, and England struggle to slow the ball down as effectively as the Indian spinners....things could get tasty.
India must chase 220 to win
That final-over flurry helps a lot for England. But before that, they went from the 27th over to the end of the 43rd over without a boundary. That’s how difficult India’s spinners were to get away. Whether the surface played a part in that is anybody’s guess. But India have done very well to restrict England to the kind of score that England restricted India to in the previous two matches of this series.
That doesn’t mean it will be an easy chase, though. We’ve still got an Indian batting line-up short of its best, against a very good England bowling attack. Shafali Verma would be key for India in terms of getting a fast start, but she also had a chastening day in the field, with a couple of mistakes while in the spotlight that saw her twice moved by her captain. In the T20 World Cup final of 2020, Shafali dropped a catch while fielding, and was clearly bothered by it. She was then out cheaply while batting.
Plenty of interesting facets to the chase, then. It could be just the time for a Mithali trademarked Rock of Gibraltar innings while others score around her. Or it could be time for Brunt and Co. to fire up and lay an unshakeable claim to this multiformat series. Tanya Aldred will be your guide through the catacombs.
WICKET! Glenn run out 6, England all out 219
47th over: England 219-10 (Cross 16) Final over of the rain-reduced innings, to be bowled by Deepti Sharma. Kate Cross gives it a wholehearted charge, but doesn’t get the whole bat. In fact, very little of the bat. The shot just dribbles to short midwicket. Tries again Cross, and clatters it into the non-striker’s stumps! This time there’s no touch from Deepti on the way, so it’s just a dot ball. Third time? Successful. Cross gets all of it, dead straight for four.
Fourth time? Hits it for six! Shafali Verma is back in the deep down the ground. And lurking in from the rope in case the ball drops short. It would have been a catch had she been standing on the rope. Instead it carries for Cross.
Fifth ball of the over, Cross goes more leg side and gets two runs from deep midwicket, Glenn putting in the effort to reach the non-striker’s end at full stretch as the bails come off. And from the final ball Cross goes straight again, long on is wise to it, and Glenn is run out trying for a second run.
England are bowled out from the final ball of the innings. That’s also a high score in ODIs for Kate Cross.
46th over: England 206-9 (Glenn 6, Cross 3) Runs for Cross before runs for Glenn, reaching wide to Goswami and slicing over backward point. A leg bye raises England’s 200. Glenn faces a fourth fallow delivery, whipping nicely but straight to Poonam Yadav in the ring at midwicket. Goswami bowls a yorker, and Glenn gets away! Digging at it, skewing it over the bowler and just over mid off. Back for two. Tries again from the final ball, and gets enough of it! Not a true shot out of the middle, but slices four over cover.
45th over: England 197-9 (Glenn 0, Cross 0) One ball to come. Glenn cuts and is nearly caught behind. Still hasn’t scored, three balls faced, and has effectively run out her partner without even calling for a run. It’s tough coming in so late in the piece.
WICKET! Shrubsole run out (Deepti) 1, England 197-9
Refer to Sophia Dunkley’s comment immediately before this. Glenn is on strike, and forces the ball straight back at the bowler. Shrubsole is several paces down the pitch, ready to run. Deepti collects cleanly and backhands onto the non-striker’s stumps.
WICKET! Dunkley b Deepti Sharma 28, England 196-8
Another for Deepti! Dunkley precedes the wicket with a very smart reverse sweep, getting lots of power on the ball as she comes down hard on it. But the next one fools her. It starts outside off, and she’s moving across looking to play to the leg side. But it turns sharply, and stays low. Suddenly she’s trying to catch up with the ball, which is never a good place to be. And having moved so far across, when she fails to catch up, bar perhaps a tiny sliver of bat, it takes her leg stump. “Fuck!” she yells very audibly through the stump mics. Fair enough, really.
44th over: England 192-7 (Dunkley 23, Glenn 0) Sarah Glenn can’t score from Goswami’s final ball, a slower ball that reaches her as a low full toss. Three overs to go for England.
WICKET! Ecclestone lbw Goswami 9, England 192-7
Goswami returns with overs to spare. Two players can bowl 10, three can bowl 9. She has up to three left but won’t be able to bowl more than two given our position in the innings. Ecclestone is desperate to go, but can’t. A fresh air shot, a hit straight to the infield, then a dashed single. Dunkley can only do the same, belting through to the far end, narrowly beating the direct hit from India’s captain Mithali Raj.
Then from the fifth ball of the over, Ecclestone goes across the line and misses, hit on the ankle in front of middle stump. Goswami has a fair bit of angle, which means it could be going down. But the umpire gives it, and the replay shows that was a correct call with the ball clipping leg stump.
Given out, but sent upstairs...
43rd over: England 190-6 (Dunkley 23, Ecclestone 8) Now there’s a swing from Ecclestone, down to long on where Verma backs away rather than running in to try to catch. Mithali Raj changes the field immediately, Mandhana sent back to fill that spot after her fine catch earlier. Now the ball follows Verma at mid off, who fields well on the bounce as Ecclestone flat-bats it. No run. But four runs from the next ball as Ecclestone gets low to an overpitched ball from Poonam Yadav and smears it through midwicket. Plays the same shot to the boundary rider for one run to keep strike. Four overs to go.
42nd over: England 182-6 (Dunkley 21, Ecclestone 2) Dunkley is the senior player, but Ecclestone likes to swing. So does Sarah Glenn, in next. So perhaps the play is for those two to swing hard, and Dunkley to be the relative anchor. Ecclestone doesn’t though, first up. Goes back on her stumps to Sneh Rana’s off-break and prods. Gets a bottom-handed drive to long off, and that’s only a single. India keep winding ropes around the legs of their opponents. Five singles from the over, three to Dunkley, who is going at less than a run a ball with five overs to go.
WICKET! Brunt st Bhatia b Poonam Yadav 6, England 177-6
41st over: England 177-6 (Dunkley 18) Poonam Yadav is coming around the wicket to Dunkley now, over the wicket to Brunt. Denying Dunkley the chance to lap, perhaps? Tries the googly back onto Brunt’s stumps and the bat just keeps it away. But from the final ball of the over, the googly does the job. Slipped very wide of the off stump, Brunt gives it the charge and then notices it start to turn. Tries to change her shot, to get something on the ball, but to no avail. Between bat and pad, and Bhatia cleans up the bails.
40th over: England 172-5 (Dunkley 15, Brunt 4) Four singles from Sneh Rana’s over, and still no sign of Happy Hour. Only seven overs to go, given the time lost to rain earlier. A run a ball from here doesn’t see England much past 200.
39th over: England 168-5 (Dunkley 13, Brunt 2) Now then. Poonam Yadav on. Brunt does like to hit the ball hard, but a lot of time left in this innings. She can also play sensibly, she’s not helpless in the face of the temptation to thwack the ball over the fence like some players are. I’d still say she’s batting one spot too high in 50-over cricket, England picking five specialists even with Heather Knight and Nat Sciver as bowling options in the top six.
Brunt does the sensible thing in this over and collects a couple of singles.
38th over: England 164-5 (Dunkley 11, Brunt 0) Deepti finishes her over with 2 for 29 from eight, with the first of England’s bowlers in Katherine Brunt at the crease.
WICKET! Sciver c Mandhana b Deepti 49, England 163-5
What a catch from India’s star opener! Sciver wants a big piece of Deepti Sharma, wants to get going, but again the bat twists in her hand and she doesn’t get the full purchase she wants on the ball. Trying to thunder it over midwicket, instead it’s heading for the gap between the two boundary riders. Still a chance to go for four. But closing the distance, Smriti Mandhana comes flying across and dives full length lateral to the pitch, getting both hands to the ball and holding it even as she comes to rest face-down in the grass.
37th over: England 162-4 (Sciver 49, Dunkley 9) Three singles from Pandey’s over, the innings run rate still floating around the low 4s.
36th over: England 159-4 (Sciver 48, Dunkley 7) You can see why Dunkley is so likeable. Sprightly. Facing her first over of spin, just zips across her crease and plays the lap shot against Deepti for two.
35th over: England 154-4 (Sciver 47, Dunkley 3) Pandey continues, and Sophia Dunkley is there for her second ODI innings. Played well in the Test, played well in her first ODI. Has played well domestically to get those chances. She’s a curious player, awkward to the eye with the way her elbows crook and her feet splay at unusual angles. But she nonetheless gets herself into really good positions from which to address the ball. Shifts her stance constantly. Has two looks at Pandey before flicking two runs through midwicket, adds a single to follow, and she’s away.
Gives the bowling to Sciver with one ball remaining, and Sciver is dropped! Very tough return chance. Sciver goes leg side, gets a leading edge back past Pandey to the bowler’s left. Pandey has to lunge across full stretch and get very low, fingertips to it a few inches above the turf. It doesn’t stick.
WICKET! Jones c sub (Radha Yadav) b Deepti 17, England 151-4
34th over: England 151-4 (Sciver 47) Deepti revs the ball from hand to hand before releasing, her flight teasing Sciver down the wicket again, mistiming an attempted straight loft that skews squarer to deep midwicket. Bounces in front of the fielder. Jones is still finding her way. Tries to be aggressive by charging but also mis-hits, a flat shot dragged to long on for one. Sciver takes a sensible single, then from the last ball of the over Jones tries to go big again. Flight, angled in, the angle leaving Jones a bit cramped as she tries to swing leg side, and she clunks the shot down to long on for a comfortable catch as the substitute fielder trots in.
33rd over: England 146-3 (Sciver 43, Jones 16) Pandey replaces Poonam, seam replacing swing. The bowler has a habit of releasing a sort of martial-arts yelp of effort with each delivery. Sciver tries to put some muscle on one ball, but aside from that they quietly collect four runs in increments of one.
32nd over: England 142-3 (Sciver 41, Jones 14) Deepti Sharma takes the ball after the scheduled hydration interval, and keeps the screws tight. Dives across to save from her own bowling, flights the ball, varies her length, keeps the batters to two singles.
31st over: England 140-3 (Sciver 40, Jones 13) More productive off Poonam Yadav’s over for England, with six singles, each to the leg side. The first for Jones was a pretty ungainly swipe across the line that had the bowler interested. Second drinks break, meaning we’re three overs behind the intended rate, in a women’s international in which 19 of the overs have been spin.
30th over: England 134-3 (Sciver 37, Jones 10) Goswami continues, and Sciver can’t get anything away. Tries three times, finds the field three times, including a hard hit drive that Goswami fields herself with skill. In the end Sciver can only drive a single to long on.
29th over: England 131-3 (Sciver 36, Jones 8) Poonam Yadav will float up some more. Sciver charges, but overcharges, turning the ball into a low full toss which can sometimes be hard to hit, especially on the move. Only drives a single. Gets the strike back, then charges to defend. Stays home to the fourth ball to cut a single. The endless wrestle in the mind of any player facing Poonam Yadav. Jones sees a short length and shapes to cut, then realises very late that it’s the googly, turning in, and has to produce a very ungainly pull to save her stumps. Good bowling. Four singles from the over.
28th over: England 127-3 (Sciver 34, Jones 6) Goswami has five overs left in her allotment, and she’s back to use one of them now. Back of a length on the off stump, Jones defending off the back foot. Bhatia is up to the stumps, she knows that Jones likes to use aggressive footwork. The combination keeps Jones quiet, a couple of dots before she’s able to glance a single. Sciver hands back the strike immediately, and Jones defends a couple more. She’s 6 from 11.
27th over: England 125-3 (Sciver 33, Jones 5) Harmanpreet is bowling a tightrope between wanting to bowl outside off stump, but not too wide. Errs on the side of the latter and Jones can get off the mark with a square drive for four. Sciver ends the over with a boundary of her own, backing away and dragging with power behind square. Utilitarian batting, that.
26th over: England 115-3 (Sciver 28, Jones 0) Sciver doesn’t slow down. This isn’t even a short ball from Rana, but Sciver backs away and carves a cut shot through extra cover for four. Gets off strike thereafter. Jones blocks a couple and then finds the field.
25th over: England 110-3 (Sciver 23, Jones 0) The partnership was worth 42, but Knight generally goes on to bigger scores once set. England’s keeper Amy Jones comes to the middle, another with plenty of hitting power. She blocks out the last ball of the over to bring the innings to the halfway mark.
WICKET! Knight c Pandey b Harmanpreet 46, England 110-3
The plan works again! Harmanpreet wouldn’t have been happy earlier in the over when Shafali Verma misfielded at long on to let a ball through for four. But she’s happy now, as she bowls very wide of off stump, and Knight still tries to drag the slog-sweep to the leg side. As for the previous wicket, Pandey is out there, and hangs on to the catch in the end despite nearly fumbling it while down on one knee.
24th over: England 105-2 (Knight 46, Sciver 18) Rana with a quiet one, a couple of singles. Sciver trying nothing expansive against the off-spinner, but you sense that it’s only a matter of time.
23rd over: England 103-2 (Knight 45, Sciver 17) A new spinner now, with Harmanpreet on, and while the plan has been for the off-spinners to bowl wide, I’m not sure that she means to bowl this wide. Almost on the return crease. Knight swishes and misses the first errant ball, but cuts the next one late and profitably behind point for four.
22nd over: England 94-2 (Knight 37, Sciver 16) Rana has the ball for her third over, bowling from the New Road End in Worcester. Staying very wide of the off stump, to which Knight scythes a drive to the cover sweeper for a single. Sciver hangs back and prods to leg. After which Knight is almost out twice. Rana slips in a straighter ball and Knight comes across her stumps to sweep but misses the ball going past her legs. Or almost misses it. It’s on track to take her leg stump, but she gets a touch of glove on it. Then that gloved delivery hits Bhatia behind the stumps and bounces off. Talk about luck.
21st over: England 89-2 (Knight 34, Sciver 14) Pandey returns, and so do her bad habits. Overpitched and Sciver drives hard straight past mid off for four. Then she and Knight milk the rest of the over, eight from it in all. The partnership is already worth 21.
20th over: England 81-2 (Knight 31, Sciver 9) Smashed! Sciver just plays a cross-bat bludgeon back into the surface, and Poonam does well to stop it. She exclaims in pain and wrings her hand, then smiles wryly. Them’s the breaks in cricket, a ridiculous game played with a really hard projectile. It’s another tight over from the leg-spinner, just two runs from it as the batters keep finding the field.
20 overs bowled, England going at just over 4 per over. Wickets in hand. India need to get Sciver, she’s the one who can hurt you most.
19th over: England 79-2 (Knight 30, Sciver 8) There goes Sciver, down the track to Rana in an early statement of intent. Clubbed over mid off for four, one bounce. Loves to hit straight, has such a simple game sometime even though she can hit just about any shot. Also uses her feet well in the other direction in this over, going back on her stumps to work a single and a deuce.
18th over: England 71-2 (Knight 29, Sciver 1) A change in ends for Poonam Yadav, who is replacing Deepti. What if Rana’s over was just to help the other two spinners change ends? I’m sure she’ll keep bowling now, but it would be interesting to know what the original plan was. Poonam keeps flighting the ball down to Sciver, who is the kind of player who would love to hit every such delivery over the ropes. Doesn’t mind the big shot. But usually takes her time to build an innings first. She even plays a leave as Poonam lands one outside the offstump at under 35 miles per hour. The bowler really is a marvel, the way she foxes players at such slow speeds. Or because of such slow speeds. Sciver goes back to defend off her stumps, then sweeps a full ball that was threatening her pads. Two singles from the over.
17th over: England 69-2 (Knight 28, Sciver 0) You can put part of that wicket down to Mithali Raj. She said Rana a strong off-side field, indicating that the bowler would be aiming outside off stump, and leaving gaps on the leg side to tempt the batters. They both went in that direction.
WICKET! Winfield-Hill c Pandey b Rana 36, England 68-2
No more leg-spin for now, instead Sneh Rana comes on with her off-breaks. Bowled really well in the first innings of the recent Test match, then batted incredibly well to save it. Her highest score in all professional cricket, any format, came in that Test rearguard. She was 80 not out by the time hands were shaken. Knight tries a slog-sweep that bounces in front of the outfielder. But that doesn’t teach Lauren Winfield-Hill any lessons. She goes for the same shot, hits it more sweetly, which means that it carries into the waiting hands on the midwicket rope.
16th over: England 67-1 (Winfield-Hill 36, Knight 26) Refreshed, Winfield-Hill beats cover for a single, giving Knight the chance to play a reverse-sweep at Deepti Sharma for four. Middled it through deep third. This pair getting on top here.
15th over: England 61-1 (Winfield-Hill 35, Knight 21) Down on one knee goes Winfield-Hill, pulling out the slog-sweep against Poonam. Looks dicey, over the head of midwicket in the circle, and saved in the deep so only bringing two runs. They add three singles thereafter. That’s drinks, only 15 overs bowled in the first hour of play. Mithali Raj has had no interest in getting games done on time on this tour.
14th over: England 56-1 (Winfield-Hill 31, Knight 20) Both batters are looking for options against Deepti Sharma’s off-stump line. Knight reaches wide and sweeps hard, but there’s a deep square leg for her pet shot. Winfield-Hill goes the other way, backing away to force through cover. Again only one run. Deepti gives the ball even more air, and beats LWH’s top edge on the cut. Four singles.
13th over: England 52-1 (Winfield-Hill 29, Knight 18) They manage to get the singles going from Poonam Yadav in this over, four of them in all, using their feet and driving through the off side. Nothing expansive, Poonam still landing everything on a good length. England’s 50 is up.
12th over: England 48-1 (Winfield-Hill 27, Knight 16) Deepti is giving the ball air as well, and it gets her the bounce that nearly brings a wicket! Winfield-Hill cutting, top edge, and Sneh Rana lunges across and may have fingertipped that at slip. Well to her right.
11th over: England 45-1 (Winfield-Hill 24, Knight 16) Double spin now, with Poonam Yadav into the attack, the diminutive leg-spinner who routinely flights the ball about three times her own height as it travels down the pitch. She’s bang on, immediately, making both batters use their feet to try to get to the pitch of her deliveries. LWH lofts a couple of runs over cover. It’s dangerous though. So many players come unstuck this way.
10th over: England 42-1 (Winfield-Hill 22, Knight 15) A change to spin, with Deepti Sharma on, and immediately she draws mistakes. A poke from Knight, edged away wide of slip for a couple of runs, then a missed sweep that hits Knight in the arm as she’s down on one knee, Deepti appealing but the umpire correctly ruling that the impact was outside the line of the stumps. Just the one scoring shot from the over as Knight closes up.
9th over: England 40-1 (Winfield-Hill 22, Knight 13) A boundary for Knight now, off the pads from Goswami and this time the England captain gets the timing to beat the damp outfield.
8th over: England 35-1 (Winfield-Hill 22, Knight 8) Pandey has the wicket, but she’s had her issues today as well. Several wides, and now bowls too full outside the off stump, twice in a row. Winfield-Hill drives them both through the covers for four. Then takes advantage of a corrected line, driving this time through mid on! Same result. That helps the run rate.
7th over: England 23-1 (Winfield-Hill 10, Knight 8) Goswami back to the bowling crease, and India are swarming in the field. A big dive from Harmanpreet at mid-on to save a boundary, parrying Knight’s drive for a single. A leg bye the only other score from the over. England going at 3.29.
6th over: England 21-1 (Winfield-Hill 10, Knight 7) Hazardous to pull Pandey, as we saw earlier, but LWH goes for it on this occasion. Gets a lot of bat on it, almost enough to see a catch carry down to Goswami aptly placed at long leg. The tall opening bowler takes a step back to save the boundary rather than trying to dive forward for an unlikely catch. Two singles and a wide from the over.
5th over: England 18-1 (Winfield-Hill 9, Knight 6) Very upright stance, high backlift, for Heather Knight, who flicks waspishly across the line to divert Goswami down to long leg. Pandey does some very relaxed fielding with the boot to save a boundary. It works, on this occasion. Two runs the only score from the over.
4th over: England 16-1 (Winfield-Hill 9, Knight 4) Smooth from LWH! Down the track again to the seamer, Pandey this time, and goes over extra cover with her lofted shot. Four runs. Then Taniya Bhatia produces an outstanding bit of wicketkeeping, saving a wide down the leg side and backhanding the ball back onto the stumps in the same motion. The batter was lucky to have stretched her foot back into her ground after being dragged out.
3rd over: England 11-1 (Winfield-Hill 5, Knight 4) Goswami getting excellent bounce from a good length, not giving Winfield-Hill any room to move. The batter resorts to galloping down the track and swatting through wide long on for four, making the length fuller. Can’t do anything with the free hit though, when that delivery is deemed to be a no-ball for overstepping.
2nd over: England 5-1 (Winfield-Hill 0, Knight 4) Pandey gets the wicket with her fourth ball of the day, but drags down her next ball to give Heather Knight a welcoming gift. Short, wide, cut for four.
WICKET! Beaumont lbw Pandey 0, England 1-1
Gone! Early strike for India via Shikha Pandey, who can get the ball swinging away from the right-hander but this time angles it back in. Beaumont tries to pull, and the length was not there for that shot. Nor was the bounce. It stays low, creeps under her bat as it swishes across the line, and hits her dead in front. So very much out that she doesn’t even have a conversation about whether to refer it to DRS, she just walks off.
1st over: England 1-0 (Winfield-Hill 0, Beaumont 0) Jhulan Goswami will start us off with the ball, standing at the top of her mark in her full Spirited Away persona. Impossibly long loping strides eating up the ground, lips pursed, most of her face caked in white sunscreen, she’s an imposing sight. Some good fielding in the covers means that the only score from the over is a first-ball wide.
At last, we’re getting underway.
Heather Knight *
Amy Jones +
Mithali Raj *
Taniya Bhatia +
India win the toss and will bowl
Generally the best option to bat second if there’s a threat of interruptions, given that you know exactly how quickly you need to score after the DLS score adjustments. “It can play on the mind,” says Mithali Raj, “so it’s better to win the toss and choose to bowl.”
Her minor neck complaint from the previous match is fine, she says, and she’s bringing an unchanged team from that game. “The bowlers bowled in good areas and got the match close enough, and the fielding unit showed a lot of intent on the ground, and we understand how important it is to win a game. The points keep the series alive.”
Heather Knight doesn’t mind. “We would have done the same with the weather and the overhead conditions, but it’s nice to do something different in the series and try to put a score on the board. I’m sure India have gone away as we have and come up with plans for different players.”
England will also field an unchanged XI.
“Living in Herefordshire,” writes Peter Salmon, “which also often has for seasons in one day, I became obsessed with weather apps recently. Did you know that UK ones often include pessimism factor? That is, they say it’s going to be worse than in reality, because people are angrier if they don’t take an umbrella and get rained on than they are if they take one and don’t. Small victories are the best. Very OBO I think.”
At last, an update. The toss will take place 20 minutes from now, at midday local time. Play will start half an hour after that. Despite losing 90 minutes from the scheduled start time, we’ll only lose six overs from the match. 47 per side. That will use up all of the available extra time, meaning the overs will take a bigger hit if there is another rain delay during the match.
No rain at the moment, people are wandering about comfortably enough. There will now be an inspection at 11:15am local time, and after that we should get going promptly enough.
Here’s our first delay of the day... the toss was supposed to take place a few minutes ago. I’m not in Worcester, so I can’t tell you about the elements with first-hand experience, but it has been raining recently and so the covers are still on. There will be an umpire inspection in a few minutes to see whether the ground staff can get things going.
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The forecast for Worcester from the BBC looks... erratic. In the space of three to four hours this afternoon we’ve got icons saying sunny with rain and thunderstorms and a gentle breeze and 21 degrees and a 44% chance of rain. Is this normal for Worcester? It’s like the weather version of going to the buffet and piling up a serve of everything.
Here we are, then – last chance saloon for India in the 50-over leg of this multiformat series against England. So far we’ve had a Test draw and two ODI wins for England, meaning the overall points stand at 6-2. That means that if India lose today and go to 8-2, the best they could do would be to tie the series by winning the three T20 matches yet to be played.
It’s been all England in these ODI matches so far, mostly because the tourists have not been able to get going at all with the bat. In their first match they proceeded confoundingly slowly. In their second they had a middle order collapse and had to lay sandbags when it was time to launch catapaults.
So India would love to bowl first today, but that won’t help solve any of their batting problems. What they really need is to take on England and find some confidence in doing so. The strike power is there, with Verma and Mandhana up top and Harmanpreet and Deepti in the middle. The backbone is there via Mithali Raj. But all of these players have to relocate their best.
As for England, it’s happy days. Sophia Dunkley has been a revelation since her recent elevation into the first-choice XI. Kate Cross is back in the wickets. The bowling core of Brunt, Shrubsole and Ecclestone are going well. Most of the top order are in the runs: Sciver, Beaumont, Winfield-Hill. Heather Knight nearly made a ton in the Test match. On they go.