Pace Bowler Fulfils Childhood Dream to snatch Trophy From Distraught India’s Grasp
Anya Shrubsole stole the Women’s World Cup from India’s grasp in a heart-stopping final at Lord’s yesterday.
Her father Ian, had tweeted a picture of Shrubsole just two days before, scooting around the Tavern Stand as a nine-year-old apparently declaring she wanted to play in a final at the Home of Cricket one day.
Well now, not only has she played in one, she’s won one too, and how.
England were down and out with India 191-3 chasing 229 to win with more than six overs to go.
Shrubsole took the ball more in hope than expectation yet in just 19 balls took 5-11 as India crumbled. The trophy did not so much slip away as be unceremoniously wrenched from their clutches. All this from an England seamer who had spent most of the tournament in its shadows. Her 6-46 doubled her wicket tally for the 2017 World Cup. Talk about timing.
India: Astute, Talented but Mentally Fragile
Did England win it or did India lose it? The temptation is to quote Clive Tyldesley’s words from Manchester United’s famous European Cup final of 1999 over Bayern Munich – ‘with the greatest respect, who cares?’
Yet it is impossible not to fill sympathy for India, who for 80% of this final were better than England in all facets of the game.
They were tactically more astute. Their bowling changes were clever, their fielding sharper. When batting, they let the ball do the work spotting more opportunities for ones and twos than their counterparts.
Yet, England, by skipper Heather Knight’s own admission afterwards still some way from the finished article, found something which has typified their campaign, a bloody-minded iron will which simply refused to lose.
Shrubsole: The Standard-Bearer From Amid The Shadows
With legends of former England Women’s World Cup wins watching from the stands, Shrubsole became the standard bearer for all the class of 2017 and their dreams to join the nation’s cricketing giants of ’73, ’93 and 2009.
Raut’s wicket was key, her magnificent 86 ended, pinned bang in front as Shrubsole targeted the stumps.
Hartley chipped in, bowling Sushma Verma in the next over, yet as 200 came up India still looked favourites.
Shrubsole though was in full cry and when Veda Krishnamurthy spooned her to mid-wicket England began to believe once more.
Goswami lasted just two balls before Shrubsole uprooted her leg stump with a yorker too good for her fellow quick.
Even then India might have got over the line. Deepti Sharma survived a review for a stumping off a wide which took an eternity to adjudicate as the visitors edged to within 11 of victory.
But even lurking in the outfield you couldn’t keep Shrubsole out of the spotlight. Shika Pandey pushed into the offside, was promptly sent back, but in swooped Shrubsole to fizz the ball back to Taylor who did the rest.
India’s hopes now rested with Sharma, but she skied Shrubsole to Sciver at mid-on to leave England on the brink.
There would be more drama as Gunn spilt Yadav at mid-off with ten to win. Would that prove a last cruel twist? No.
Shrubsole, the bowler scorned by the drop grabbed the ball and roared in once more beating the prod of Rajeshwari Gayakwad, sending the bails skywards. England, at home were home.
England Labour with Bat in Hand
Earlier England stuck with the out of form Lauren Winfield and she and Tammy Beaumont produced a spate of boundaries in the opening power-play.
The pair failed though to supplement fours with singles and rotation of strike.
The pressure told when Gayakwad bowled Winfield round her legs as she attempted to sweep one to close to her.
Beaumont, somewhat starved of strike then lost patience, hoisting a Poonam Yadav full toss straight to Jhulan Goswami.
When skipper Heather Knight played across a straight one from Yadav (2-36), the hosts were floundering at 63-3.
Sarah Taylor and Natalie Sciver dug in to affect a fightback. The pair succeeded where others earlier had failed, finding the gaps and rotating the strike.
Boundaries were few, the usually free-flowing Taylor not managing a single one, yet runs clocked up at a healthy rate.
The 50-run stand took 65 balls and at the 30-over mark England were 133-3, a big score still in the offing.
Goswami was brought back in a bid to break the stand and succeeded in the cruellest way possible, having Taylor strangled out down the leg-side. One ball later she was on a hat-trick, a wretched decision from the umpire giving out Fran Wilson LBW.
Sciver completed 50 from 65 balls only to fall to Goswami (3-23), who had taken 3-5 in a devilish spell.
At 164-6 England may have crumbled, but Kathryn Brunt (34), plus unbeaten efforts from Jenny Gunn (25) and Laura Marsh (14) carried them to a competitive 228-7.
Indian Calm Before Shrubsole Storm
The feeling over lunch was England needed an early breakthrough and Shrubsole obliged in the second over, bowling Mandhana for a duck with one which went through the gate.
Raut and skipper Mathali Raj though took control until a moment’s madness let the hosts into the game once more. Raut played the ball square to Knight who gathered and threw to Taylor, who hands in front of the stumps left Raj stranded.
It would be England’s last hurrah for some while. Harmanpreet Kaur, heroine of India’ semi-final triumph over Australia joined forces with Raut and the runs inexorably ticked on.
Raut hoisted the first six of the game off Shrubsole while Kaur launched Alex Hartley for two more maximums in quick succession.
Hartley though had the last laugh in that joust, having Kaur snared in the deep by Beaumont with the stand just shy of 100.
Thereafter the madness began and the tension rose. Taylor offered Raut a life, missing a stumping chance off Laura Marsh and skipper Knight dropped Krishnamurthy at cover.
Those misses looked terminal for England’s chances, but as destiny beckoned India choked.
This tournament though has been a fantastic one, so while India faltered it seems fitting to salute their executioner, Shrubsole. The long-time queen of Somerset, now Queen of Lord’s too.