It was the beginning of the 43rd over of the Indian innings. India was needed 47 runs from 48 balls with 7 wickets in hand. Punam Raut was batting on 86 and Veda Krishnamurthy was on 19. Both of them were set and on the verge to lift the most coveted trophy for the first time. Sensing the match was slipping away from her hand England captain Heather Knight brought Anya Shrubsole into the attack. She was economical in her earlier spells and conceded 26 runs in her 6 overs while taking the valuable scalp of Smriti Mandhana for 0.
Veda, who is known for her aggressive batting, took the chance against her. She hit two boundaries through point and cover in the first two deliveries while taking a single from the fourth ball of the over. India now needed 39 and Punam Raut was back on strike. She has batted superbly in this match. First, with Mithali Raj she rescued India from initial hiccups and then added 95 runs for the 3rd wicket with Harmanpreet Kaur.
She may not become the talk of the town with her blistering knocks but India looked up to her in crucial moments. She proved her abilities in the opening match against England, in a low scoring match against Pakistan and through century against Australia. In the final, she batted exactly the way India needed then. She held her nerves in the entire innings.
Out of 86, 22 runs came from boundaries, protecting the effort she put in to take India in a comfortable position. Despite the less number of boundaries, her strike rate was 2nd highest among the Indian batters who have crossed the 20 runs mark.
After India lost Mithali, Harmanpreet joined her. And picking up the innings where she left against Australia, Harmanpreet scored 51 from 80 before getting out to left-arm spinner Alex Hartley.
It was the fifth ball of the over. Shurbsole steamed in and delivered an inswinger which Punam played all around the delivery. She looked to work it square but missed the ball. The ball hit her near the knee role and umpire didn’t hesitate to raise his finger.
Though Punam wanted to go upstairs she was late to call for the review. However reply showed had she been taken the DRS, the 3rd umpire would have satisfied with the on-field decision.
India lost Punam Raut but most importantly it exposed the less experienced lower order to the fierce English attack. Next over Sushma Verma went for a sweep against Alex Hartley to lose her wicket. India was now slowly but gradually succumbing to the pressure of the final. Shrubsole continued from the other end as India still needed 31 runs. India took two singles in the first three balls to reach 200.
Veda Krishnamurthy, playing her first World Cup final tried to bring the run rate down. 4th ball of the over was slower and fuller outside off, looked to fetch it from way outside off in hope of clearing deep mid-wicket, and the top-edge settled under Nat Sciver who made no mistake. Jhulan Goswami came to the crease. Being the seasoned campaigner a lot depended upon her. Shrubsole was ready to bowl the final ball of the over.
Inswingers were turning out to be effective and she again relied on that. Jhulan was ready to face her first ball. The ball pitched around off stump and came back sharply. Jhulan Goswami was late to get down to the delivery and also played outside the line only to hear the stumps rattling. From 182/3 India was reduced to 201/7 in space of 18 balls. And Anya Shrubsole was the recurring chief in this destruction.
Young Deepti Sharma and Shikha Pandey hang on there for a while and added 17 runs in 15 balls to ignite the Indian hope. While it seemed that these two can sail over the winning line, India trembled again. Shikha Pandey hit straight to point and went off for a single which was never there. She was sent back by Deepti Sharma but it was too late. Though the throw from Anya Shrubsole wasn’t the best of throws, keeper Sarah Taylor came into action to whip the bails. Poonam Yadav survived the next three balls from Jenny Gunn while India was still 11 runs away from the victory.
In the next over Deepti Sharma lost her wicket again to fearsome Shrubsole to hit the ball to mid-wicket. Deepti Sharma’s wicket ensured Shrubsole’s name in the Lord’s Honour Board and two balls later she complete the formalities by uprooting the stumps of Rajeswari Gayakwad. India lost their last 7 wickets in 35 balls while scoring only 28 runs. Shrubsole in her last spell picked up 5 wickets giving away 20 runs. She cleaned up Indian lower order to hand England a 9 runs victory and their 4th One Day World Cup.
Earlier, Heather Knight won the toss at Lord’s to bat first in the final of the 2017 World Cup. India qualified for the final after 12 years and England was looking for their victory after 2009. Both the English openers sharted off well and added 40 runs in the mandatory powerplay. Mithali Raj introduced spinners from both ends in search of a couple of wickets, and spinners lived up to the expectation. England lost three wickets, including Heather Knight in space of 17 runs.
Knight is known for her abilities against the spinners and her wicket brought India back into the match. But all-rounder Nat Sciver and Sarah Taylor resisted Indian bowlers from doing any further damage. They took their time in the middle and added 83 runs for the 4th wicket. Sarah Taylor became Jhulan’s first victim of the match when she was caught behind the wicket on 45. Fran Wilson who made 81 against India in the opening match, was next to fall. She went for the flick a yorker but the ball hit her front pad and umpire Shaun George raised his finger.
Natalie Sciver too fell to Jhulan just after completing her half-century. However, its English lower order led bu Katherin Brunt took the score close to 200 and then added 32 runs in the last four overs. These late blasts from Jenny Gunn turned out to be the deciding factor in the course of the match. Jhulan Goswami with her 10-3-23-3 was superb in the night of the final and well supported by leg spinner Punam Yadav who picked up 2 wickets for 36 runs.
India team looked dejected after the defeat in the final of Cricket World Cup for the second time. They were in the match for most of the time but failed to tackle the pressure of the final. Anya Shrubsole for her 6/46 became the Player of the match while Tammy Beaumont became the Player of the Tournament.
England 228/ 7 (Natalie Sciver 51, Sarah Taylor 45, Jhulan Goswami 3/23, Poonam Yadav 2/36) beat India 219/10 (Punam Raut 86, Harmanpreet Kaur 51, Anya Shrubsole 6/46, Alex Hartley 2/58) by 9 runs.