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'I perform well when I enjoy myself' - Renuka sticks to her strengths to create a stir

"She bowled really well with the new ball and that's something batters will look at in case we come up against India again," says Sophie Ecclestone

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
18-Feb-2023
Even when the St George's Park brass band pauses for a breather, it's almost impossible not to keep bopping and swaying in your seat. Much like when Renuka Singh got the ball to swing quite seriously, India rocked along with her to make a convincing start to their T20 World Cup game against England in Gqeberha.
But then, just like those catchy tunes that get stuck in your head and refuse to leave, England persisted, refusing to fall behind, raising their own tempo to set a competitive target. Their spinners were able to defend it with some tight bowling through the middle overs, negating Renuka's career-best effort and bringing a semi-finals berth one step closer.
Renuka nailed her rhythm immediately, striking with the third ball of the match with an inswinger that drew a prod from Danni Wyatt, who fell to a first-ball duck when Richa Ghosh launched herself to her right for an excellent take behind the stumps. Renuka pinged the top of off stump with another inswinger as Alice Capsey played inside the line, and then splattered Sophia Dunkley's off stump as the batter played the wrong line again.
India were full of energy and near-flawless in the field during the powerplay as England were reduced to 37 for 3, the only error coming when Shafali Verma failed to stop a boundary as Heather Knight advanced to Deepti Sharma and clipped through mid-on.
England's innings settled through a 51-run partnership between half-centurion Nat Sciver-Brunt, who is in scintillating form, and Knight, and then hit a crescendo through Amy Jones' 27-ball 40 as she shared partnerships with Nat and Sophie Ecclestone worth 40 and 27 respectively.
Jones struck a glorious six off Pooja Vastrakar, which bounced off the first-tier balcony's edge and on top of the fence beyond deep midwicket and, next over, hit back-to-back fours of Radha Yadav through fine leg and over cover as England helped themselves to 25 off two overs. Ecclestone picked out the same area as Jones' maximum to dispatch Deepti for a 69-metre six of her own before Jones followed up with another slightly wider moments later.

Renuka Singh picks up two wickets in final over

Renuka wasn't done, though. Brought on for the last over of the innings, Renuka had Jones caught behind before Katherine Sciver-Brunt holed out to long-on, to seal her first international five-wicket haul.
"Everyone wants me to enjoy myself, and that's when I perform well too," Renuka said after the game. "My nature is such that I smile and perform and it gives me confidence. The pitch was pretty good for pace bowling so maybe we conceded 10-15 runs extra. Things were in our favour but we knew it would be a competitive game against England."
It was the first meeting between the sides since the third ODI at Lord's in September, where Renuka was Player of the Match for her four wickets, which resulted in a 3-0 series sweep for India, but is better remembered for Deepti running out Charlie Dean at the non-striker's end.
Smriti Mandhana stuck to the swinging theme, dispatching Katherine to the rope either side of deep square-leg to take 16 off the third over of India's pursuit, all in boundaries. She lofted Dean over long-on for another with Jemimah Rodrigues slapping her bat in applause at the other end. But key wickets at regular intervals - including those of Mandhana shortly after reaching fifty and Rodrigues - to legspinner Sarah Glenn left India with too much to do despite Ghosh's unbeaten 47 off 34 and Katherine conceding 19 runs in the final over.

Sophie Ecclestone: Sarah Glenn 'held her nerve so well'

Left-arm spinner Ecclestone was full of praise for Glenn. "She held her nerve so well against some of the best batters in the world and she really backs herself now in this environment and it's great to see her excel like she did and getting Smriti's wicket," Ecclestone said. "I know it means a lot to her.
"I also do a bit of work on Smriti. I think bowling to her in the powerplay is the hardest thing. She's obviously a great batter, I just need to be trying to be one step ahead of her and just contain her as much as I can."
She also had good things to say about the young Indian stars. "She knows her game really well," Ecclestone said of Renuka. "She bowled really well with the new ball and I think that was something that batters will look at in case we come up against India again. She used her slower balls really well… she deserves her wickets.
"I met Richa about three or four years ago playing for Trailblazers in Dubai and I thought she was amazing then. I said to her after the game today, 'you're an amazing player, keep your head up', but she's still so young and she's going to be an annoying player for me to bowl at when she gets a bit older and when we keep playing her. She's got a big future ahead."

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women's cricket, at ESPNcricinfo