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Bench strength, being ruthless and overcoming pressure - England's takeaways from India series

Heather Knight happy with how her side is shaping up ahead of next year's World Cup

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
Heather Knight lifts the trophy after the 3rd T20I against India  •  Getty Images

Heather Knight lifts the trophy after the 3rd T20I against India  •  Getty Images

Bench strength, being ruthless and overcoming pressure are themes England Women will look to build on ahead of next year's World Cup after winning a hard-fought multi-format series against India.
The hosts had to win their final T20I at Chelmsford on Wednesday night to win the series - encompassing a one-off Test, three ODIs and three T20Is. England prevailed by eight wickets after Danni Wyatt's unbeaten 89 to claim the overall trophy by 10 points to six.
Apart from opener Wyatt's return to form after going more than 18 months without an international fifty, and another excellent performance by Nat Sciver, Player of the Series for the T20I leg, England's ability to withstand the pressure of a must-win contest was particularly pleasing for Heather Knight, their captain.
"There's always pressure but we knew it was the culmination of five weeks' hard work," Knight said. "We've been in a semi bubble for that time as well so there's a few tired people around and a few people that are ready to go home so I think today was a real show of character that we were able to put in that sort of performance under pressure."
With the bigger picture of the World Cup in New Zealand next February and March in mind, Knight drew a positive from the fact that India's competitiveness had meant the series replicated the sort of tense situation her side could find themselves in at the global tournament.
India won the third ODI in Worcester, which was a dead-rubber in the context of the 50-over leg but which gave the visiting side valuable points in the series as a whole. They also won the second T20I in Hove when England lost six wickets for 31 in the space of 5.4 overs.
England's collapse negated their impressive batting depth on that occasion but, provided they could avoid a similar performance in the final match, India's total of 153 for 6 looked slightly below par, despite an impressive 70 from Smriti Mandhana. England duly overhauled the target with eight balls to spare for the loss of just two wickets, with Wyatt and Sciver putting on 112 runs together.
"We were definitely under pressure with the way they batted," Knight added. "It was a very good wicket and I thought Smriti, in particular, played really nicely, put us under pressure and we've responded brilliantly to that.
"It's always nice to have those victories, when there's more on the line, you feel like you've really earned them, so I'm very pleased. We've not had it all easy, we've been put under pressure at a lot of points and reacted reasonably well most of the time, so that's great for us as a side.
"We've learnt a lot. Being ruthless has been a bit of a theme and I'm really pleased that we're able to do that because there's been times I guess where we've maybe taken our foot off the gas a little bit and let India back in. That's a really good lesson for us, to really make sure we're ruthless, taking individual responsibility to finish games off for the team."
Wyatt was overlooked in favour of Lauren Winfield-Hill for the ODI leg of the tour and, after scores of 31 and 3 in the first two T20Is, she was under some pressure to make a significant contribution. "About time" were her first words when interviewed by Sky Sports upon receiving her Player of the Match award.
"I've always encouraged her to try and play her natural game, and she's gone back to that brilliantly," Knight said. "She's got that role for us at the top of the order, we want her to be positive, aggressive, and take the game away from teams like we know she can.
"She's not going to come off every time but to see her play like that and finish the game off, more importantly, I think was a massive boost for her and will give her the world of confidence."
With Wyatt having made the most of her opportunity, Knight noted that there were other players "knocking on the door" just to get a chance.
"We've got a real competitive squad forming, which is great to see, and it's obviously pushing us forward as individuals," she said. "We've got world-class players that have missed out.
"Anya Shrubsole hasn't played in this [T20I] series and Fran Wilson has been been going very well and obviously can't get in the side at the moment so having that competitiveness and different people performing at different times is great for us as a team."
England will host New Zealand in three T20Is and five ODIs from September 1.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo