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Shefali Verma, Sophie Ecclestone & Ruthlessness -Top 5 Talking points from India-W’s tour of England

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The Indian Women wrapped up their tour of England with a thumping loss, thanks to a commanding 89* by Danni Wyatt. This was India’s first overseas tour since their tour of the West Indies in November 2019 (not including the T20 World Cup 2020), and their first tour of England since 2014.

England won the multiformat series 10-6, as the one-off test match was drawn, and England won both the limited-overs legs of the series 2-1. Though England were definitely the stronger and more complete unit, the Indian colts showed a lot of spark in phases. With both teams looking to build up towards the 2022 World Cup, England have come out looking the more solid and ruthless bunch. India came up with questions about their fast-bowling prowess and intent with the bat on the field (especially in ODIs).

There were a lot of fantastic moments in this multi-format series, with many stalwarts reinforcing their value to their teams while a bunch of debutants and youngsters made their mark on the biggest stage.

Before we move on to the future and what it holds for both these teams, here’s a quick look at what were the major talking points coming out of the series.

A historic Test Match

While the world was waiting with bated breath for the first ever World Test Championship finals, India-W and England-W played their first ever test match against each other in six years. It was India’s first test since 2014, and England’s first Non-Ashes test in the same time period.

A Historic Test Match
A Historic Test Match

The match started off being shrouded in controversy as they were offered a used pitch from the Gloucestershire v Sussex T20 Vitality Blast match. But that didn’t deter what turned out to be a match worthy of its occasion and the wait.

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India and England have met each other in 13 Tests thus far, with 10 of them ending in a draw, India with two wins and England with one. What has been even more remarkable about this head-to-head is that both of India’s wins came in England, and England’s solitary win came in India. India also walked into the match with three consecutive test wins, one short of the record for Women’s Tests.

Shafali Verma and Sophia Dunkley’s fearless debut

England batted first, and they started off in commanding fashion, thanks to Heather Knight’s 95. In company with Nat Sciver and Tammy Beaumont, England reached 230-3. But a small collapse ensued as India picked up late wickets in the third session to reduce England to 269-6 at the end of Day 1. Debutant Sophia Dunkley was unbeaten on 12. Dunkley looked a million bucks playing her first match and shepherded the tailenders like an experienced campaigner. She remained unbeaten on 74*, as England declared with their score at 396-6. The innings was worth its weight in gold, as a near 400 total enabled England to impose a follow-on on India in their second innings.

A debut for the Ages
A debut for the Ages

Walking into bat for India were Smriti Mandhana and debutant Shafali Verma. And what a debut it was. Just 17 years of age, Shafali Verma scored 95 against an experienced bowling line-up of Katherine Brunt, Sophie Eccelestone, Anya Shrubsole and the likes. She was fearless in his approach and had stitched a 167 run partnership for the first wicket with Mandhana. She followed it up with 63 in the second innings as India followed on and India had unearthed a true all-format superstar.

Mithali Raj’s class and consistency

Though she had an indifferent outing in the Test match, Mithali Raj owned the ODI format. She scored a half-centuries in all three matches, including the match-winning 75* of 86 balls in the third match. Though India lost their first two matches, and a lot was spoken about Indian batswoman’s intent, Mithali played her role as the anchor with impeccable perfection.

Still the most consistent batsman for India
Still the most consistent batsman for India

Her three half-centuries propelled her to the No.1 spot in the Woman’s ODI batting rankings, her 8th time at the top, and 16 years since she first claimed the top position. A true testimony to her longevity in the game. She also went past Charlotte Edwards’ record of 10,273 runs in international cricket to become the leading run-getter in International Women’s Cricket. Mithali will be a vital cog of India’s ODI unit, with the World Cup just a few months away.

Sophie Ecclestone was the leading wicket-taker among bowlers from both teams in all three formats of the game. At just 22 years of age, she has already become the mainstay of England’s bowling unit. She picked up 19 wickets overall at an average of just 19.94, and was the most important element of England’s ODI series win.

Sophie Ecclestone was brilliant across formats
Sophie Ecclestone was brilliant across formats

Ecclestone had a star-making performance at the T20 World Cup in Australia, where she picked up eight wickets in four matches and conceded runs at just 3.23 rpo. Her consistency across formats will please the England team a lot. With the multi-format Ashes and World Cup scheduled for England back-to-back in early 2022, Sophie Ecclestone is sure to play a major role if England are looking to continue in their ruthless ways.

And on that note …

A ruthless England Unit

Heather Knight has been vocal about being ruthless in execution being a theme for the England team. And they showed that in abundance in the series against India. From dominating batting performances across formats to their metronomic bowling, they seldom let the opposition get away from them.

England v India - Women
England v India – Women’s Third T20 International

There were times where they let the gas of the pedal, India’s second innings the one-off test and the chokehold they were caught in while chasing in the second T20I. Barring one-off occurrences, England played like Champions and they will be the happier bunch coming out of this series.


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