The Indian women’s team entered the second One-day International match in their tour to England keeping an eye on repeating a feat they had last achieved in 1999. A win on Wednesday, at the St Lawrence Ground in Kent, would give the visitors a first ODI series-win over England in 23 years.
And skipper Harmanpreet Singh played with that intention.
The 33-year-old walked in to bat at No 4 and scored a blistering unbeaten 143-run knock off 111 deliveries to help India post a total of 333 for 5 at the end of 50 overs. Harmanpreet then marshalled her troops to bowl out England for 245, win the match by 88 runs, and secure the three-match series after the visitors had won the opening match on Sunday.
“When we came here, (winning our first ODI series in England since 1999) that’s what we were looking at. Today was a very important game for us and everybody (who got) a chance was utilising it,” Harmanpreet said later in the post-match presentation.
Her knock came at a crucial juncture in the Indian innings. The visitors had been reduced to 66 for 2 by the 12th over, and Smriti Mandhana’s 40 off 51-balls ended in the 20th over with the score at 99.
But with Harleen Deol, Harmanpreet put up a solid 113-run partnership that took away any momentum England had earned for themselves. Central to that partnership though was the Indian captain’s form.
“When I was batting before I (got to the half-century), it was not easy to bat, you have to really stay there. They were bowling really well. I took my time, and when Harleen came, that partnership was important. After that I gave freedom to myself because I was well-settled at that time. I just wanted to back myself and look for all the shots,” Harmanpreet added.
In the second innings, Harmanpreet was at it again as she ran out England opener Tamsin Beaumont in the second over.
But Renuka Singh Thakur played an important role with the ball as well. The 26-year-old from Shimla was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with four wickets for 57 runs at the end of her 10 overs.
“She’s always giving us breakthroughs. Our team really depends on her and I’m very happy with the way she’s bowling. Today whoever got the chance was giving us breakthroughs and that’s what you need from your players - whenever they get the opportunity the utilise that,” Harmanpreet said about Thakur’s performance.
Going ahead to the final ODI on Saturday at Lord’s, another Indian seamer will be in the spotlight, as 39-year-old Jhulan Goswami will be playing the last match of her long, glittering international career. While there has been no formal announcement yet, the captain was asked about it and she said it was indeed going to be her final match.
Goswami had made her ODI debut in January 2002 in Chennai.
“We’re going to miss her. The way she’s bowled, and (given to) this sport throughout her cricket career, that was outstanding,” Harmanpreet said.
“I’m really happy, our medium pacers are really learning from her with the way she’s been bowling, they’re getting the feedback from her. Having a senior like her is a great pleasure. I’m really happy that we got a chance to play with her.
“Lord’s is a place every cricketer wants to play at. We’re very happy that our last game will finish there and that will be special for us because Jhulan is going to retire. It’ll be a great match for us.”
India will play the last match of the series against England on Saturday, September 24 at 15:30 hrs IST.