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Sciver, Keightley confident of bouncing back for bronze-medal match after semi-final loss

"It's going to be tough to take but I'm sure we'll go out tomorrow with the same freedom and attitude that we have been doing," Sciver says

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
Nat Sciver: "It will be a tough afternoon. There will probably be a few quiet people"  •  Getty Images

Nat Sciver: "It will be a tough afternoon. There will probably be a few quiet people"  •  Getty Images

England fell back to earth with a thud as India ran right over them and into the Commonwealth Games gold-medal match with a thrilling four-run victory in front of a near-full house at Edgbaston on Saturday.
The host nation, who entered the tournament with more than one eye on a shot at the Commonwealth title, was consigned to the bronze-medal playoff against the loser of the semi-final between Australia and New Zealand.
That was after Smriti Mandhana's 32-ball 61 and Jemimah Rodrigues' excellent finishing set India up, and then Sneh Rana and Deepti Sharma held their nerve at the death to defend 164.
England captain Nat Sciver said her side was "gutted" after their defeat.
"It will be a tough afternoon," Sciver said. "There will probably be a few quiet people, but playing for a medal is something that we've wanted to do ever since we heard about the Commonwealth Games. So we'll be out in full force tomorrow.
"It's tough to take any loss really, but we obviously wanted to be in the gold-medal match and hadn't considered not [being in it] really. It's going to be tough to take but I'm sure we'll hopefully review as quick as we can and then really be able to park that and go out with the same freedom and attitude that we have been doing tomorrow."
A fired-up Katherine Brunt couldn't hide her emotions when she saw 17-year-old Freya Kemp put down a catch at mid-on off her bowling that would have removed Deepti for 12. When Deepti, who added ten more to her score, skewed the ball straight up in the air, Brunt screamed for the field to leave it to her as she diverted her follow-through to her right to complete a caught-and-bowled.
Brunt later received an official reprimand and one demerit point for breaching the ICC's Code of Conduct for using an audible obscenity.
"The incident occurred in the 17th over of India's innings, when Brunt used inappropriate language after a catch was dropped off India batter Deepti Sharma," the ICC said in a statement. "Brunt admitted the offence and accepted the sanction proposed... so there was no need for a formal hearing."
Brunt, who has enjoyed an excellent tournament so far with bat and ball, conceded 30 runs off her four overs for one wicket, while left-arm seamer Kemp took 2 for 22 from three. Sciver, who claimed one wicket herself, said Brunt's reactions were purely heat-of-the-moment and backed her side to bounce back.
"Their openers are heavy boundary hitters and obviously it's not nice when you're getting hit for boundaries either, so the pressure was on," Sciver said. "It's hard in the moment to not be disappointed about a catch going down. We're still a unit, we're still a team, we'll be back out tomorrow."
After three overs, England were 28 for 1 compared with India's 28 without loss and the home side ended the powerplay six runs behind. After 14 overs, however, both sides were identically poised on 113 for 3 and, with the experienced Sciver and Amy Jones in the middle, England had the personnel to overhaul the target.
When both Sciver and Jones were run out, however, there was an argument for promoting Sophie Ecclestone after her crucial 12-ball 33 not out in the last T20I against South Africa, immediately before the Games. But Lisa Keightley, England's head coach, was comfortable with having stuck with the relatively inexperienced Maia Bouchier at No. 6 followed by Brunt and then Ecclestone.
Brunt fell for a two-ball duck, caught by Harmanpreet Kaur off Rana in the final over, and while Ecclestone smashed the last ball of the match for a huge six down the ground, it was too late.
"In hindsight, you probably could say you could flip it but we'll never know," Keightley said. "Katherine's had such a good tournament, I was keen to back her in and then see what she could do, but we'll never know, will we?"
Keightley also said that while the bronze-medal game posed a different challenge in terms of requiring teams to play again after losing what would normally be a "knockout" game, she was glad her side have that opportunity.
"There's a lot to play for, getting a medal in the first Commonwealth Games and going away with something is, on the flip side, quite nice," she said. "So I'm sure they will be looking to improve and bounce back and show how we can play.
"Smriti Mandhana had a fantastic innings. I think she probably hasn't played one better in a big match. She was fantastic and good on her. She really took it to our bowlers, who were a little bit off. We probably didn't execute how we wanted to, but that's cricket isn't it?
"Their powerplay was really good. India's tactics in going slow, they've done that before and we've been used to it but they probably executed it and backed it up in the field.
"And we've got six new players within our T20 side, which I still think is very exciting, and a lot of players will be a lot better for the run and getting used to the pressure can only help us down the track."

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo