India batting woes exposed by England spinners at Wankhede as visitors go 2-0 up


A batting-friendly Wankhede surface. Shorter boundaries. At the pitch report, the broadcasters said it should be a “belter”. But a great display of control and adaptability from England’s bowlers – and misjudgements from India’s batters – took all of that out of equation.

It was a case of India’s batters being indecisive on a pitch where there wasn’t much turn. Players from both sides admitted that the ball was “skidding on” but it was also about the England bowlers being so good at varying their pace and lengths. For Charlie Dean, there were “no real demons” in the pitch. For Deepti Sharma, it was a “tricky pitch”.

Offspinner Dean was told on Saturday morning that she’d have to open the bowling as a match-up for the left-handed Smriti Mandhana. She ended up doing more than was expected of her. She was also coming into the game having missed the first T20I with a stomach bug. But her impact was felt instantly as she put India in trouble in the span of just eight deliveries.

After playing the first delivery – a length ball on off stump – straight back to Dean, Shafali Verma, next ball, played a similar delivery for the turn and looked to work it into the leg side. She was pinned straight in front and departed for a duck. That also made it Verma’s 20th dismissal to an off-spinner in 43 T20Is.

Mandhana looked somewhat settled, having hit a couple of boundaries off the quicker bowlers. Heather Knight, after giving the ball to Lauren Bell and Nat Sciver-Brunt to bowl the second and third overs, gave the ball back to Dean to bowl to the left-hander. Mandhana, expecting the ball to turn, rocked back to cut a length delivery outside off but got rapped on her pads instead and was given out by the umpire. She reviewed it to no avail.

“There were quite a lot of wickets today in the game,” Dean said after the match. “I wouldn’t have any complaints on the pitch myself. Of course I wouldn’t, I’m a bowler, I didn’t get a chance to have a bat out there but that’s good. A lot of our guys were saying it’s skidding on a bit but no real demons in the pitch. I guess just pressures and weaknesses in certain areas.

“We executed our plans really well and so did India, to be fair they set really aggressive fields. They had to because of the way that game was dictated.”

Harmanpreet Kaur injected some positivity into the innings by scooping fuller deliveries off Sciver-Brunt for back-to-back boundaries over fine leg. But Sciver-Brunt quickly changed her length, getting a length ball on off to nick sharply back into Harmanpreet’s knees to seal her dismissal. The DRS couldn’t save Harmanpreet either, and India had burnt both their reviews by the fifth over.

And the misery continued for India. There was Deepti going for a drive only to edge the ball to the wicketkeeper. With the introduction of another spinner – Sophie Ecclestone – came another wicket, a brilliant caught-and-bowled dismissal that sent Richa Ghosh back for 4.

It was then legspinner Sarah Glenn‘s turn as she pulled back her length to remove Pooja Vastrakar. Vastrakar, having played Glenn out in the eighth over, charged down the track early to play for turn but the ball went through her bat and pad hit the off stump. India at that point, were 45 for 6, Jemimah Rodrigues their only hope.

Ecclestone, with her subtle variations and stump-to-stump deliveries, made sure to squeeze India in the middle overs, where they did not hit a boundary for 40 balls. It was Rodrigues who broke the pressure with two quick boundaries, in hopes of giving India a boost. But it all came crashing down when she was out lbw trying to play one into the leg side against Glenn, who changed her length after two tossed up deliveries.

It did not take too long for England to finish proceedings as they bundled India out for 80, their lowest T20I score against England.

According to Deepti, who was playing her 100th T20I, the pitch wasn’t exactly “difficult” to play on.

“It wasn’t a 70- or 80-run wicket; we could have scored a bit more, around 110-115,” she said. “But it happens sometimes when conditions are not in your favour. You try to play well as a team but everyone can have an off day.

“I think it was not difficult. We just had to play to the merit of the ball. We had a lot of takeaways but it was not as difficult. We will see what we can take away to make it better in tomorrow’s game.”

They’ve lost 10 out of their 16 wickets to fall across the two T20Is to spinners. England had their plans in place and exploited India’s weakness with relative ease. With the next T20 World Cup set to be played in Bangladesh – where slower bowlers will play a big part – in less than a year, England will be glad their spin department is shaping up well.

India’s batters, meanwhile, will have to work on changing their patterns against spinners.

Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *