Wankhede surface is hit-friendly. Shorter borders. In the pitch report, the announcers said it should be a “belt.” But a brilliant display of control and adaptability by the England bowlers – and poor judgment on the part of India’s bowlers – took all that out of the equation.
Offspinner Dean was told on Saturday morning that she would have to open the bowling as a match for left-hander Smriti Mandhana. She ended up doing more than was expected of her. She also came into the game after missing the first T20I due to a stomach bug. But its impact was felt immediately as it put India into trouble in the space of just eight deliveries.
After playing the first delivery – a long ball over the stump – straight to Dean, Shafali Verma, the next ball, played a similar delivery to the turn and looked to put it to the leg side. It was installed right in front and left for a duck. This also made this Verma’s 20th dismissal to an off-spinner in 43 T20Is.
Mandhana looked fairly settled, having hit some boundaries off the faster bowlers. Heather Knight, after giving the ball to Lauren Bell and Nat Sciver-Brunt to throw second and third, gave the ball back to Dean to throw to the left-hander. Mandana, who was expecting the ball to spin, swung back to cut a long pass out but was hit on her pads instead and taken off by the referee. She reviewed it to no avail.
“There were a lot of wickets today in the match,” Dean said after the match. “I won’t have any complaints on the field myself. Of course I won’t, I’m a bowler, I haven’t had the chance to get a bat out there but that’s OK. A lot of our guys were saying ‘it’s slipping a bit but there’s no real devils on the field.’ “I think it’s just pressures and weaknesses in certain areas.”
“We executed our plans really well, and so did India, and to be fair, they put out really aggressive pitches. They had to because of the way that game was dictated.”
Harmanpreet Kaur brought some positivity into the innings by extracting full deliveries from Sciver-Brunt for successive boundaries over fine leg. But Sciver-Brunt quickly changed her length, getting a long ball to hit Harmanpreet’s knees sharply to seal her dismissal. DRS couldn’t rescue Harmanpreet either, and India burned their two reviews by the 5th over.
Ecclestone, with her subtle variations and neat deliveries, made sure to put pressure on India in the middle overs, where she fell short of 40 balls. It was Rodriguez who broke the pressure with two quick boundaries, hoping to give India a boost. But it all came crashing down when she was out of weight trying to play a single down the leg side against Glenn, who changed her length after two delivery throws.
It did not take long for England to wrap up proceedings as they bowled India out for 80, their lowest score in a T20I against England.
According to Deepti, who was playing her 100th T20I, the pitch wasn’t exactly “difficult”.
“The wicket was not 70 or 80 runs, we could have scored more, around 110-115,” she said. “But that happens sometimes when the circumstances are not in your favour. You try to play well as a team but everyone can have a day off.
“I think it wasn’t difficult. We just had to play hardball. We got a lot of points but it wasn’t that difficult. We’ll see what we can use to make things better in tomorrow’s match.”
They lost 10 of their 16 wickets to fall through the T20Is to the spinners. England made its plans and took advantage of India’s weakness with relative ease. With the next T20 World Cup in Bangladesh – where slow bowlers will play a big role – in less than a year, England will be happy that their spin department is shaping up well.
Meanwhile, India’s batsmen will have to work on changing their patterns against spinners.
Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo