The Report by Karthik Krishnaswamy
A transformative World Cup for women’s cricket ended with the final it deserved. A near full-house at Lord’s, a tense finish, and every imaginable thrill and spill. In the end, of all the heroes of an overcast and occasionally drizzly day, it was Anya Shrubsole who stood tallest.
With India needing 10 to win with their last pair at the crease, Shrubsole gestured to her team-mates to calm down when Jenny Gunn put down a sitter, off her bowling, at mid-off. Shrubsole had no doubt the wicket ball would come, soon, and off her own bowling. She ran in again, knocked back Rajeshwari Gayakwad’s off stump, and finished with the best ever figures in a Women’s World Cup final: 6 for 46.
The experience told in the end. This was England’s fifth final. India were playing only their second; the last one had come 12 years ago.
And bit by bit, India let slip a chase that was in their control for most part. A third-wicket partnership of 95 between Punam Raut and Harmanpreet Kaur had brought the equation down to 91 off 100 balls when the latter picked out deep square leg with an airborne sweep. Then, after Shrubsole’s slower offcutter sent back Raut for 86, India promoted Sushma Verma – a wicketkeeper-batsman with an average of 6.40 after 13 innings – ahead of Deepti Sharma, who has seven fifties and a 188 in ODIs.
Then Veda Krishnamurthy, who had lived on the line between enterprise and recklessness in scoring 35 at over a run a ball, slogged at Shrubsole and holed out when India needed 29 off 33. The gates were wide open, and Shrubsole stormed through, yorking Jhulan Goswami two balls later to tilt the match decisively England’s way.
That wicket was symbolic, one bowling hero surpassing another. Goswami, playing what was perhaps her last World Cup match, had been instrumental in restricting England to what seemed a below-par 228 for 7. Her new-ball spell – 5-2-9-0 – had kept England’s run rate in check even while their openers scored at eight an over at the other end. Her second – 5-1-14-3 – had ripped the heart out of England’s innings.
When Goswami began her second spell, Sarah Taylor and Nat Sciver had put on 70 for the fourth wicket, and England, at 133 for 3 after 30 overs, may have set their sights on 270. When she ended her second spell, England were 168 for 6 after 40. Thanks to their batting depth, they continued to fight, and Katherine Brunt, Gunn and Laura Marsh scrambled 60 off the last 10 overs to set India a testing target.
Summarized scores: England women 228 for 7 (Sciver 51, Taylor 45, Goswami 3-23, Poonam 2-36) beat India women 219 (Raut 86, Kaur 51, Shrubsole 6-46) by 9 runs