England sealed a 10-6 points victory in the multi-format women’s series against India after triumphing by eight wickets in the third and final Twenty20 at Chelmsford.
Danni Wyatt’s punchy 89 not out from 56 balls helped England reel in a target of 154 with eight balls to spare on Wednesday evening in the final assignment of a gripping series that went right down to the wire.
Here, the PA news agency delves into what we have learned over the past few weeks.
Verma a star in the making
Shafali Verma arrived on these shores with a big reputation as the top-ranked T20 batter in the world at just 17 years old. But she showed she is more than capable against the red ball with scores of 96 and 63 in Bristol last month, the youngest batter to score twin fifties on debut in women’s Tests. She was kept relatively subdued in the three one-day internationals and three T20s as England’s short-ball tactic seemed to pay off. But in the penultimate T20, she took on the bumper and flayed 48 from 38 balls at Hove that helped the tourists keep the series alive heading into the last match. Truly, India have someone special on their hands.
Ecclestone becoming ever more dependable
While Verma’s duel with Katherine Brunt was the headline attraction – the England veteran bowled the India opener twice in the last three matches to have the last laugh – Sophie Ecclestone showcased her skill throughout. The 22-year-old slow left armer took eight wickets apiece in the Test and ODIs to put England on top. While she was wicketless in the first two T20s, the world’s number one bowler in the format finished the series with three for 35 to help restrict India to a manageable target. With 19 wickets across the seven contests – a record in a multi-format women’s series – Ecclestone was so reliable for the hosts.
Youngsters make sure women’s cricket is safe hands
Verma and Ecclestone deserved special mentions for their consistent displays but there were a number of young players on both sides who have made the smooth transition to international cricket. India pair Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma have bags of international experience despite being only 24 and 23 respectively. Sophia Dunkley became the first black woman to play Test cricket for England, aged 22, and made an impression with a knock of 74, while 21-year-old leg-spinner Sarah Glenn is becoming increasingly assured at international level.
Competitive series guarantees a good series
There were a couple of blowouts – the first ODI, when unbeaten fifties from Tammy Beaumont and Nat Sciver carried England to an eight-wicket win, while they ran out comprehensive victors on Wednesday following Wyatt’s brilliance. But overall there were ebbs and flows that made for a competitive series, with England’s superiority on home soil ultimately seeing them over the line. While supporters on both sides would want to see their teams flourish, nobody wants a one-sided series and the fact this one came down to the last game was a measure of how well matched these sides are.
England up to the task
With an Ashes series, the defence of their 50-over World Cup and the Commonwealth Games all within the next 13 months, there are sure to be no shortage of important games where the pressure is at its most intense. It was therefore no bad thing that England were taken to a must-win – or must-not-lose – series decider on Wednesday, which had the air of a knockout match. Wyatt came into the game averaging just 13.28 in her past 18 T20 innings, having been dropped for the ODI series, but came to the fore at Chelmsford as England rose to the challenge impeccably