England have won their fourth Women’s World Cup, as Anya Shrubsole’s 6-46 ensured a dramatic nine-run victory against India at Lord’s.
It’s a tournament that has been completely dominated by England and Australia over the years, with New Zealand’s triumph in 2000 the only time another side has won it. India almost, and perhaps should have, changed all of that. But, at the Home of Cricket and in front of a sold-out crowd on Sunday, this will go down as one of England’s finest moments in their history, as they lifted their fourth trophy and first since 2009.
India won the group-stage encounter between the sides, but with only a 2005 final appearance to their name throughout the tournament’s 44-year history, on top of England looking to add to their three titles after topping the group stages, the hosts were heavily favoured.
The Proteas might now reflect even more on what could’ve been, for the side that beat them in the semi-finals with two balls remaining, went on to win the whole thing.
India sent England in to bat after winning the toss, and it was a steady start by the opening pair of Laura Winfield and the tournament’s leading run-scorer Tammy Beaumont, building up a 47-run stand inside 12 overs. Three wickets fell in quick succession however, as Winfield (24) and Beaumont (23) fell within three overs of one another, before skipper Heather Knight departed for one. Poonam Yadav (2-36) took two of those wickets to leave England rattled on 63-3.
That’s when two of England’s most in-form campaigners, Sarah Taylor and Natalie Sciver, combined for a vital 83-run stand. Sciver, who amassed two centuries in this tournament, scored 51 off 68 balls, while Taylor scored 45. Again, however, the wickets fell in clumps, as Jhulan Goswami took three wickets in a blistering three-over spell, finishing with match-winning figures of 3-23 from her 10 overs.
A handy finish at the end of the innings from Katherine Brunt (34) and Jenny Gunn (25) lifted England to 228-7.
India were dealt a couple of early blows in response, as Smriti Mandhana fell for a duck, before influential skipper Mithali Raj was run out for 17, but Punam Raut kept India’s noses in front with an excellent 86, while she built up two important partnerships with Harmanpreet Kaur (51) and Veda Krishnamurthy (35), with respective 95- and 53-run stands.
India looked well-set going into the final eight overs on 182-3, needing 47 runs with plenty of wickets in the bank. But then four wickets fell in the next three overs to blow the contest wide open, Anya Shrubsole (4-44) the chief destroyer with three of the wickets, including that of Raut and Krishnamurthy.
It was a dramatic final three overs, for India looked to have brushed the dirt off and got their side all but over the line. They needed 14 runs with three wickets in hand. But then the panic set in, as Shikha Pandey was needlessly run out for four, which left India needing 11 runs off the final two overs.
Cue Shrubsole yet again, who hit the nail in the coffin with the two wickets required off the first four balls of her last over, to finish with career-best figures of 6-46, and with that, the World Cup trophy.
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