Brilliant knock from Smriti sees India level T20 series

India’s Smriti Mandhana plays a shot during the ICC Women’s World Cup 2022 match between India and Pakistan, at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Sunday

Opener Smriti Mandhana’s 79 and captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s unbeaten 29 helped India beat England by eight wickets in the second T20I of the three-match series at County Cricket Ground, Derby on Wednesday.

Smriti’s glorious unbeaten knock ensured that India avoided any hiccups to chase down a sub-par total set by the hosts England. She was ably accompanied by the Indian captain right till the end to help India with their first win of the series, enabling the visitors to tie the series 1-1. The Indian team made a decent start to their run chase after Freya Kemp became the youngest woman to make a T20I fifty for England, and helped her team reach a sub-par total.

Shafali Verma accompanied ace batter Mandhana to begin the innings. The duo took the attack to the English bowlers, hitting a flurry of boundaries in the powerplay. The southpaw Mandhana made merry of the bowling of first innings hero Freya Kemp, who came on to bowl the fifth over. Kemp was taken to the cleaners and was hit for four boundaries, including one off a free hit. Kemp proved to be expensive and gave away 19 runs in the first over.

India were cruising along to victory, but the introduction of Sophie Ecclestone saw Shafali Verma getting caught and bowled off the last bowl of the powerplay, giving England a much-required breakthrough. The visitors ended the powerplay brilliantly with a score of 55-1.

The departure of Shafali brought in Dayalan Hemalatha. Hemlatha did not trouble the English bowlers and was dismissed soon after scoring just nine runs in the ninth over, bringing the Indian captain to the crease.

Smriti continued to produce boundaries at regular intervals to let Kaur play second fiddle and settle in. The duo took India to 90-2 at the end of 10 overs with Mandhana at 43 off 28 balls and Kaur at 11 off six deliveries.

India did not have any difficulty getting the remainder of the runs with two of its most prolific batters at the crease. The duo stitched an unbeaten partnership of 69 runs to take India home in the 17th over.