England gave themselves a much-needed boost before heading to Australia to participate in the Ashes series when beating India by 90 runs to take third place in the World Series of Women's Cricket at Bert Sutcliffe Oval at Lincoln University today.
The final between Australia and New Zealand will be played on the same ground tomorrow.
It was a win based around a fine innings of 80 played by opener Kathryn Leng, her highest in One-Day Internationals. Her previous best were two scores of 46, one in the 2000 World Cup against South Africa and last summer in England against India. Her 50 took 82 balls and when she was out, bowled when playing the ball onto her stumps, she had scored 80 off 109 balls.
Leng looked to attack as often as possible during her innings which was a refreshing sight from an England side that had largely under-performed until the last two games of the tournament.
She shared an opening stand of 35 with Sarah Collyer and a second-wicket stand of 65 with Charlotte Edwards, who was out for 21 after suffering an injury in the latter stages of her innings.
England could have really shut the gate on India, but their middle and lower-order batting folded badly and they lost their last seven wickets for 39 runs in 66 balls. India's left-arm spinner Neetu David was outstanding and took three for 42 from her 10 overs. Nooshin Al Khadeer took two for 32 from her 10 while Jhulan Goswami took two for 24.
Given the fact that India had been on the receiving end of the dramatic last ball, one-run loss to England yesterday, it was going to take a mighty effort to score the 192 they were set to win.
That cause was not helped when Sunetra Paranjpe was trapped leg before wicket from the third ball of the innings by Lucy Pearson. Mithali Raj was India's biggest hope and she started in typically dashing style but she was the fourth batsman dismissed when the score was only 55, and that made the job very difficult for the rest of the side.
A player capable of taking the attack to all the sides in the world, she was unstuck by Laura Harper and bowled for 26 off 45 balls. Earlier, Jaya Sharma, who had played some memorable straight drives based on the quality of her timing more than any power associated with the shot, scored 16 and Anjum Chopra, another key wicket, was leg before wicket to Clare Connor.
The England captain's left-arm slow bowling resulted in her having the second best bowling performance of her career as she finished with three wickets for 16 runs.
Her loyal ally through the middle stages of the innings was Collyer, who at one stage was on target for the fewest runs off a bowler in ODIs but some lusty lower order hitting denied her of that and she had to be happy with four for nine off 9.5 overs.
Chopra was very disappointed with the two losses to England at the end of the tournament and said her side had difficulty with the way umpiring decisions throughout the tournament had tended to go against her side across the gamut of decision-making, leg before wicket, stumpings and run outs. She was still upset about a stumping decision given against Raj at a vital stage of the game against New Zealand and she was also disappointed in some of the run out decisions in the first loss to England.
But overall she said the side's batting had let them down. She said the tournament had been very valuable in giving exposure to international play for India's younger players. They had played against the world's best and it had given them a good platform to improve their game.
"The tournament is a good idea. We don't play many international games. At least teams like Australia and New Zealand can play each other," she said.
England captain Connor said the last two games had been much more like the real England.
She said her side was guilty of playing well only in patches for 20 minutes to half an hour when they needed to be able to perform for much longer.
"Yesterday's game was a thriller, the sort of game everyone wants to play in as long as they are on the winning side.
"Our coach John Harmer has looked at the stats and he said if you score 180 you have a 70% chance of winning, if you score 190 you have an 80% chance of winning and if you push over 200 you have a 95% chance of winning," she said.
Connor said the side had benefited from having six players out in New Zealand and Australia playing over the summer and she believed the side had the potential to beat those two countries if they could put together longer periods of dominance.
Mental toughness was one advantage the trans-Tasman nations had over England.
She agreed with Chopra that the tournament concept was a winner and she added that the Lincoln University venue for New Zealand Cricket's High Performance Centre was outstanding for this type of event.
"It has been brilliant. We knew it would be intense, but that is what we play cricket for," she said.
Her side now heads to Brisbane to start the Ashes series with Australia and while she had been pre-occupied with the World Series it was now time to start looking at the Ashes.
She admitted it would be tough especially as the Australians had such a good bowling attack which was dominated by Cathryn Fitzpatrick, but the other bowlers were not so much of a handful while the key batsmen were Belinda Clark, Karen Rolton and Lisa Sthalekar was emerging.
"If we play well, and if we're consistent we have got every chance of doing well," she said.