Cricket: England’s women clinch World Cup in tense Lord’s sell-out

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In front of a record-breaking crowd of 28,000 at Lord’s, England’s women clinched their fourth World Cup title with a 9 run victory over India in the penultimate over of the day.

Set a target of 229 from 50 overs by England, India started inauspiciously by losing opener Smriti Mandhana without score in Anya Shrubsole’s opening over, and captain Mithali Raj – who led her country to the same result in 2005 – could only steer her side to 43/2 before an unenthusiastic attempt to regain ground saw her run out for 17.

Punam Raut and semi-final star Harmanpreet Kaur then added 95, including the only three sixes of the day, before Kaur swept the spin of Alex Hartley to the waiting Tammy Beaumont shortly after passing 50. Shrubsole, who struck the winning boundary with her first ball in the semi-final with South Africa on Tuesday, then once again became England’s hero towards the end of the match, first by breaking the resilience of Raut for 86 after another 50-plus partnership, this time with Vena Krishnamurthy (35).

This sparked a game-changing collapse for India, who fell from 191/3 to a final score of 219 all out within the six overs that followed. Claiming the best figures in World Cup final history, Shrubsole finished with final figures of 6/46 from 9.4 overs, including the first ball dismissals of Jhulan Goswami and Rajeshwari Gayakwad.

The required rate remained firmly within the realm of possibility thanks to singles being punctuated by calm boundaries and errant bowling, however within 14 balls Krishnamurthy and Sushma Verma too had perished. Shikha Pandey – whose seventh overs had gone for 7.57 apiece – effectively ended all hope with an aborted run attempt after a meek cut to point. By referring wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor’s ever-swift work to the cameras, umpire Gregory Brathwaite treated the stumble with an undeserving kindness.

Earlier, a top-order wobble had curtailed a solid start for England, with opener Lauren Winfield equalling her second-highest score of the tournament (24) and Tammy Beaumont – later named player of the tournament for her 410 runs at 45.55 – taking the score to an unbeaten 43 at the end of the Powerplay.

Soon, both had departed – Winfield bowled around the legs by Gayakwad, Beaumont caught pushing a full-toss to Goswami on the mid-wicket boundary – and it soon took a DRS challenge from Raj for counterpart Heather Knight to depart to the leg-spin of Poonam Yadav for 1.

Without a boundary in her 45, Taylor steadied the ship for 16 overs alongside Nat Sciver, who reached her 50 in 65 balls. However, after an opening spell of 5-2-9-0, Goswami used her second to make severe in-roads, removing Taylor and Fran Wilson in successive deliveries before trapping a striding Sciver with the first of her penultimate over on her way to final figures of 3/23.

It was the subsequent work of Katherine Brunt that took England towards a defendable total, playing with characteristic strength for 38 from 42 – the second-highest innings of her 103-match ODI career – before a direct hit from Deepti Sharma. Crucially, courtesy of 25 from Jenny Gunn and 14 from Laura Marsh, England held on – where India crumbled at Shrubsole’s precision, again a wagging tail carried them to a thrilling success.

England’s women return to action in October as they seek to win back the Ashes in a seven-match multi-format series opening with an ODI in Brisbane. Before then, the Kia Super League Twenty20 competition will return next month, with Southampton’s Southern Vipers looking to defend their title from the inaugural edition. The opening game at the Ageas Bowl welcomes Knight, Shrubsole, and Wilson with the Western Storm on August 10th in a double-header with Hampshire hosting Glamorgan in the NatWest T20 Blast.

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