January 8, 2002

England suffer second thrashing at the hands of Indian women

When play finally began at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in Hyderabad, the delay due to the wet conditions allowed enough time for only a 23-over-a-side game. But whether it was 50 overs or less than half as many, the story was much the same, with England struggling to come to terms batting on Indian conditions. Asked to bat first, they managed just 70/7 in 23 overs, a total the Indians overhauled with two overs to spare and for the loss of just one wicket. With this win, India go 2-0 up in the five-match series.

Things began badly for the English, with the new opening pair of debutante Laura Spragg and Kate Lowe being separated before they could get the scoreboard moving. Spragg's mighty heave over the on-side only resulted in her losing her middle stump. Lowe (1) and Newton (10) followed in quick time, giving seamer Jhulan Goswami three wickets in her quota of five overs. Jhulan's lively spell earned her 3/8.

After the fall of the third wicket, England's innings fell apart in dramatic fashion. A series of batsmen attempting to heave the ball around the park resulted in little more than confusion. Instead of playing genuine cricketing shots and keeping the scoreboard ticking over, the English batsmen panicked and succumbed to steady if unspectacular bowling from the Indians.

Slowing things right down, Anjum Chopra employed three spinners, with Neetu David (1/14), Deepa Kulkarni (0/22) and Nooshin al Khader (1/13) sending down 15 overs between them.

Changing things around, skipper Chopra came out to open the innings with Anju Jain. The pair began slowly in the knowledge that the target was eminently attainable. Lucy Pearson, bowling a good line, was unlucky to have a close shout for lbw turned down when Chopra walked into a delivery that appeared to be headed straight for off-stump.

A needless run-out saw Jain (10) depart, replaced by Mithali Raj. After the fall of the first wicket, Chopra accelerated the scoring rate, opening the face of the bat and playing the ball into the gaps on the off-side. Taking a few chances, the Indian skipper flashed hard at anything that was even slightly wide and consistently got away with it.

Mithali's (11) calming influence in the middle helped Chopra (37, 57 balls, three fours) steer India to a nine-wicket win. For her match figures of 5-1-8-3 earlier in the day, Jhulan was named the Hero Honda Woman of the Match.

At the end of the match, Indian skipper Chopra said, "It was an important win for us. We were not too happy when we learned that the game would be truncated, but it turned out well in the end. I am glad we are 2-0 up in the series." Her opposite number Clare Connor was visibly crestfallen. "It was a disappointing toss to lose, but we do not really want to make too much of that. There is no excuse really. We were outplayed once more," she said.

Connor went on to add, "I know we needed to put more runs on the board and take early wickets, but again today, that did not happen. Maybe we were a bit too frantic early on." Putting up a brave face, the Sussex left-arm spinner ended, "There are things we did better today than in the first game at Chennai, so there are a few positives to take away from this game."

For the sake of the England team and the series, one hopes that the visitors can make the necessary changes to their game in a hurry and give India a better run for their money.