India captain Harmanpreet Kaur feels the side “forcefully played” in damp conditions in the first T20I against England in Chester-le-Street where the match was delayed because of rain earlier in the day.
India were asked to bat in and they struggled their way to put up a big score as England spinners kept them to 132 for 7. While the outfield was sluggish and a bit slippery due to the wetness, the pitch was also not conducive to strokeplay. India also found it difficult to field during the chase, dropping catches and misjudging balls to let them escape to the boundary.
“I think in the end we were not able to get that many runs we were expecting,” Harmanpreet said after the match. “I just feel today we forcefully played because it was not 100% conditions for cricket to play. Still I am happy the way girls put the effort because when there are chances to get injured but they are ready to play.
“That’s what you need to have team-mates in the team [for] who can score in whatever conditions and I am happy the way we put our efforts.”
Only Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet and Deepti Sharma managed to score 20 or more as legspinner Sarah Glenn (4 for 23) had the batters in a tangle along with offspinner Bryony Smith and left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone. Glenn and Smith picked five off the seven Indian wickets. Mandhana was happy to use the extra pace T20I debutant Lauren Bell offered early on to score three of her four fours. But taking pace off meant the ball held up on the surface and occasionally stayed low as well. Case in point being Harmanpreet’s dismissal.
She had managed to get off the blocks pretty quickly but when she tried to come down the track to hit through the line of a delivery that Glenn landed on a length, it stayed low to hit off stump. Harmanpreet could only stare at the surface and her partner before walking off.
In the second over of the chase, when Radha Yadav dived to her left at backward point, she seemed to have jammed her shoulder into the ground and walked out clutching it in pain. There were more instances of fielders in the deep either over-running the ball or slipping to let the ball through, and Sophia Dunkley and Alice Capsey capitalised on it to complete the nine-wicket win.
“I know it was not 100% conditions to play cricket and still we were putting efforts,” Harmanpreet said. “I know the ground was too wet and there were so many chances to get injured and one of our players got injured also. She was our main bowler and that’s why we were lacking.”
With Radha unavailable for India’s bowling innings, Harmanpreet used herself and Shafali Verma and those two overs went for a combined 28. She also had to use more of Deepti and Sneh Rana’s offspin against England’s right-hand batters, in the absence of a left-arm spinner like Radha who could take the ball away from them.
“We were one bowler short and the way we were trying to put efforts [meant a lot],” she said. “I am really happy girls were coming forward to give 100%.”
S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo