3rd WT20I: Spinners Saika, Shreyanka set up five-wicket consolation win for India

Mumbai, Dec 10 (PTI) Spinners Saika Ishaque and Shreyanka Patil bowled brilliantly before another youngster Amanjot Kaur displayed a lot of composure to earn India a respectable five-wicket consolation victory over England in the third and final WT20I here on Sunday.

England, however, took the big prize, winning the series 2-1.

Chasing a target of 127, which got trickier, Smriti Mandhana anchored the Indian chase with a scratchy run-a-ball 48 but it was Amanjot’s boundaries, including a streaky winning reverse sweep under pressure that got the hosts past target with an over to spare.

India’s victory was their first in the last five matches, having last beaten England in September 2022, by eight wickets, at Derby. To be fair, England did play a second-string team, resting four of their star performers.

It was also India’s first win at home against England since March 2018, after five straight defeats in the shortest format.

Overall, it is only the eighth time that India has beaten England in 31 T20Is.

Mandhana cracked five fours and two sixes while the next best effort came from Jemimah Rodrigues, who chipped in with a vital 29 at No 3.

India lost Shafali Verma (6) in the third over but Mandhana and Rodrigues joined forces to take the team ahead.

However, Rodrigues swept Sophie Ecclestone twice for fours to not allow the England spinner to find her rhythm, taking 10 runs off her first over in the game.

On the other hand, Mandhana too appeared to be hitting the straps when she clobbered the left-arm Ecclestone over deep midwicket for the first six of the innings.

But the partnership ended when Rodrigues missed another sweep shot, off Charlie Dean, to be adjudged leg-before after a 33-ball 29 that had four boundaries in it.

Rodrigues and Mandhana added 57 runs for the second wicket from 55 balls.

With India captain Harmanpreet Kaur twisting her foot during the first half of the game which forced her to leave the field in the 16th over, Deepti Sharma was promoted ahead of her at No 4.

Deepti hit two fours in her 11-ball 12 before being caught behind off Freya Kemp in the 16th over, which brought Harmanpreet (6 not out) at the crease.

With 11 needed off the last two overs, Richa Ghosh (2) missed connecting on a scoop shot which only added to the pressure but Amanjot smacked two fours through cover and hit the winning runs off Ecclestone (2/40) with a boundary too.

Earlier in the game, India’s rookie spinners Saika and Shreyanka made their first real impression in top-flight cricket with three wickets apiece but England skipper Knight’s 52 took the visitors to 126 all out.

Saika (4-0-22-3) looked in her elements while Patil produced a fabulous 4-0-19-3, as England lost three wickets during powerplay and were reduced to 76/8 in the 15th over.

But Knight joined forces with No 10 Charlie Dean (16) to put on crucial 50 runs for the ninth wicket to give England bowlers something to defend.

Knight soaked the pressure well and hung around to unleash a late charge which had her finishing at 52 off 42 balls with three sixes and as many fours.

But England’s decision to bat first seemed to have backfired completely as the two Indian spinners reduced England to 76 for 8 at one stage before Knight ensured that her team’s total had a respectable look to it.