A well paced unbeaten 75 off 86 from captain Mithali Raj along with other useful contributions helped India beat England in the rain-curtailed third and final Women’s One-day International on Saturday. India’s spinners took wickets at regular intervals to nullify a promising start by England as the tourists bundled out the hosts for 219. India chased it down with three balls to spare in a thrilling contest.
India’s chase started with Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana beginning quickly before Shafali fell for 19 in the 9th over looking to attack Kate Cross. Jemimah Rodrigues, in poor form, struggled once again for 4 off 21 before she was bowled by Sophie Ecclestone.
At the other end, Mandhana kept going at brisk pace and kept India’s scoreboard ticking. She seemed set for a half-century but was lbw looking for a single against Sarah Glenn.
Harmanpreet Kaur got a start and made 16 before she attempted an ambitious reverse sweep and fell lbw. However, she would have been saved had she opted for a review, which she didn’t. The impact was outside off.
The required run rate was above 6, and Mithali was calmly guiding India at the other end, regularly finding the boundary with aerial strokes. She was well supported by Deepti Sharma (18 off 25) and then Sneh Rana, who made a superb cameo of 24 from 22. They got the equation down to 14 off 12, and then 6 off 6. Mithali, fittingly, hit the winning shot with a boundary.
India invited England to bat under overcast conditions after the contest became a 47-overs per side affair but as has been the case in the series, the hosts largely remained untroubled.
They were placed comfortably at 110 for two but their strategy to attack Indian spinners resulted in wickets falling in clutches with a middle-order collapse.
Natalie Sciver’s confident 49 and Heather Knight’s composed 46 propped the England innings while Deepti Sharma (3/47) took three wickets for India.
Sophia Dunkley (28) and Kate Cross (16 not out) chipped in with useful cameos.
Sneh Rana (1/31), Poonam Yadav (1/43) and Harmanpreet Kaur (1/24)accounted for one batter each.
Indian enjoyed early success when Shikha Pandey trapped opener Tammy Beaumont (0) leg before. The positive intent of the home batters that Indians had to, yet again, toil hard without much success initially.
Knight and in-form Lauren Windfield-Hill stroked, drove and nudged the India bowlers with ease to keep a decent run-rate.
Knight used the sweep shot effectively while Windfield-Hill used her feet well to charge down the wicket.
Leg-spinner Yadav enticed the batters with her flighted and full length deliveries but did not pose much danger.
Sneh, who bowled a better length, broke the 67-run stand when Winfield-Hill went for a slog sweep but ended up holing out to Shikha Pandey at deep mid-wicket.
Natalie Sciver played freely, driving the balls with exquisite timing. Her 49 came off 59 balls with five boundaries.
Amy Jones (17) though could not convert her good start and was dismissed by Deepti, looking for a big shot.
Sciver was denied her fifty by Smriti Mandhana, who pulled of a stunning diving catch in the deep when the Briton went after Deepti.
Knight was closing in on her first fifty of the series but her sweep shot off Harmanpreet landed straight into the hands of Pandey at long-on.
The Indian fielders were sharp and agile as they stropped a few runs.
More wickets fell when England made a final push.