England’s dreams of a maiden Commonwealth Games cricket final against Australia were ended by an upset loss to India in the semi-finals.
Skipper Nat Sciver admitted that she had never even considered the possibility that England would not be going for gold, but it was her run-out that eventually swung this four-run defeat at Edgbaston.
Indian opener Smriti Mandhana laid the platform for India to make 164-5 from their 20 overs, leaving England needing to make the highest successful chase in a women’s T20 international on these shores.
That looked possible while Sciver was in, the all-rounder smashing 41 before taking on a second run which was never on in the penultimate over. She had hit 10 runs off the previous two deliveries, including a six.
And with the prospect of a bronze medal match on Sunday morning to come, the stand-in skipper – who has filled in for the injured Heather Knight – will have to change her focus quickly.
She said: “Any loss is tough to take, we obviously wanted to be in the gold medal match and hadn’t considered not being in it.
“It’s going to be tough to take but I’m sure we’ll review as quickly as we can and then really be able to park that and go out with the same freedom and attitude that we have been doing tomorrow.
“I’m gutted. It’s such a small margin game, T20. We pegged it back really well in the first innings and then couldn’t quite get over the line when they put the pressure on us. Very small margins but they came out on top.”
It certainly was a game of fine margins, with Mandhana’s brilliant 61 setting India on their way to an imposing target after electing to bat first.
The clean-striking left-hander stroked eight fours and three sixes in her 32-ball knock, going after every bowler Sciver tried.
She and Shafali Verma added 76 for the first wicket in just 7.5 overs before the 18-year-old fell for 15 with Mandhana following an over later off Sciver.
From there, Jemima Rodrigues played the anchor role, making 44 from 31 as she batted through, with her boundary on the final delivery proving crucial.
England made a perfect start in replay, with back-to-back boundaries to start the innings, the first from a no-ball.
Danni Wyatt (35) scored a hundred when England chased down 198 in Mumbai back in 2018 and seemed on course to carry them home once again before she stepped across the wicket and watched on in horror when her little flick crashed into the stumps, leaving them at 81-3.
Hometown girl Amy Jones (31) and skipper Sciver rebuilt, keeping the target within reach but fell in successive overs, both run out. Both dismissals were down to misjudgements and England found themselves needing 14 off the final over.
Katherine Brunt was caught by Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur with three balls remaining, leaving England on the brink, and Sophie Ecclestone’s six off the final delivery served only to make the scoring margin tighter.
Next up is a battle for bronze first thing on Sunday, and coach Lisa Keightley underlined the importance of embracing that challenge.
She added: “It’s a little bit different, in World Cups we’re used to being knocked out and you don’t have to play again. But there’s a lot to play for, getting a medal at the first Commonwealth Games and going away with something is on the flip side, quite nice. I’m sure they will be looking to improve, bounce back.”
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