Smriti Mandhana’s captaincy debut was one to forget as India were handed a 41-run defeat by a ruthless England side in the first T20 international of the three-match series in Guwahati on Monday.
India struggled to 119 for six after Tammy Beaumont (62 off 57) and skipper Heather Knight (40 off 20) steered England to 160 for four in 20 overs.
The loss was India’s fifth in a row in the shortest format starting from the semifinal defeat against England at the World T20 last year and showed the WV Raman-coached side has a lot of work to do before the T20 World Cup in Australia early next year.
India lost all three T20s in New Zealand after winning the ODI series 2-1 and it’s deja vu so far against England with two more games to go. Ahead of the second T20I on Thursday, the momentum is with the visitors who also won the third and final ODI.
Mandhana, who became India’s youngest T20 captain at 22, said India’s bowling should have been tighter in the death overs.
“We gave away 10-15 extra runs at the end. Didn’t have a great start with the bat as well. Really happy with the way Arundhati Reddy, Shikha Pandey and Deepti Sharma batted at the end,” she said at the post-match interview. “That’s a positive for us. Don’t think anyone has gone back and seen the statistics. Every day we come out looking to win the match not thinking about what’s happened in the past.”
Openers Beaumont and Danielle Wyatt (35 off 34 ) provided an ideal launch pad to England with an 89-run stand. Skipper Knight was in full flow towards the end, smashing seven fours in her 20-ball cameo.
On a good pitch to bat on India could have been in the reckoning with a good start but the exact opposite transpired. The hosts lost their top three, including the in-form Mandhana, with just 23 runs on board. At that instance, there were more extras (11) than either of the top three managed to score with the bat. Debutant Harleen Deol, opening the batting, fell for eight while the mini drought for Jemimah Rodrigues continued, as she fell immediately after Mandhana.
The middle-order, in the absence of regular captain Harmanpreet Kaur, was under severe pressure and they wilted.
Mithali Raj (7 off 11) too could not do much in the circumstances and contributions from Veda Krishnamurthy (15), who made a comeback, Deepti Sharma (22 not out), Arundhati Reddy (18) and Shikha Pandey (23 not out) was never going to be enough, in terms of putting up a worthy run-chase.
England captain Knight was all praise for her teammates.
“Felt like we had a break in the last ODI where the girls showed great character to win the game. The ball was coming on nicely here. Tammy was going well at the other end. I was seeing the ball quite nicely. Delighted to contribute to the team win but the most important thing is the team performance,” she said.
Beaumont was declared player of the match.
The second match is on Saturday at the same venue.