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Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

“No match is won or lost until the last ball is bowled” came true in the final of the Women’s World Cup final between India and England. It was indeed a nail baiting finish with England winning by a narrow margin of 9 runs at Lord’s. The Mithali Raj led side collapsed from 191 for 3 to be all out for 219. So, seven wickets had gone for 28 runs and after being on the way to first World cup win final win, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. England bowlers sticked to plan and bowled consistently despite dropped catches, stumping and run out chances.

Indian team had kept England on the check throughout the innings with some intelligent bowling. Jhulan Goswami led the pack from the front with a spell of 3 for 23 from 10 overs. Shika Pandey was expensive and Jhulan failed to get the much needed support from the other end. Both D. Sharma and P. Yadav restricted scoring and a target of 229 was an achievable one. For England most of them chipped in with useful scores with Taylor and Sciver did bulk of the scoring in the middle orders and the tail wagged to give respectability to the score. India conceded 20 runs more and that was difference on a slow and low bounce wicket at Mecca of Cricket. Both Jhulam Goswami and Mithali Raj were playing their last World cup match.

Indian Team were counting an emphatic win lost first wicket at 5 when the first match centurion Mandhana failed to get off the mark and it was not a good beginning. To add salt to the wound, Mithali Raj was involved in a mix up and got herself run out for 17.  Raut make her presence felt with workman like 86 and rotated the strike well with Harmanpreet Kaur (51) and then with Veda Krishnamurthy (35) to touch 190 run mark with only 3 wickets down. But after the dismissal of Raut Indian team witnessed a major collapse. Still Indian team managed to reach 200 for the loss of five wickets and within a touching distance of victory. But just then Veda Krishnamurthy, who was striking the ball really well, threw her wicket away trying to go for a slog instead of going for singles. That wicket swung things in England’s favour and the Indians fell like a pack of cards in the end. Shrubsole claimed five wickets for 11 runs of 19 balls to hasten the end.

Chasing low totals in one day matches is not so easy. Complacency struck the Indian team as they were sailing smoothly towards the target and failed miserably in the end. Instead of going for big hits all the time, the main batswoman Kaur, Punam and Veda ought to have applied patience with caution. They lost a golden opportunity of victory. England was lucky to have seasoned bowler in Shrubsole to create a panicky in Indian team camp and the end was in the 49th over. With 10 balls left, we could have easily hit the required 9 runs if we have played with composure and confidence. Two run outs by Indian camp appeared a ridiculous blunder in the end. Deepti Sharma a left handed batsman with abundant talent ought to have been promoted to provide left-right combination and rotation of strike as well. In all it was a dramatic display of batting which culminated as a disaster with cluster of wickets after touching the score of 218.  It is needless to say that a pinch hitter was needed to prop up the score but the whole middle order played in a way as though they are going to catching the next flight back to India.

Nickhil Mani

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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