The Indian women’s team pulled off a valorous performance against their English counterparts yesterday. The match was nearly in England’s kitty, but Sneh Rana had different plans with ample support from the tail. The fact that the women donned their whites after nearly seven years and then on the final day put up one of the finest rearguard acts makes the occasion even more memorable. India was sent in to bat for the second time after the follow-on and it was a commendable show by the lower middle order to salvage a draw out of that unlikely situation. We look at 5 players whose performance exceeded expectations and was pivotal for this draw.
Mandhana is one of the team’s senior pros and has established a loyal fan following for herself on social media. Her batting at the top of the order has provided immense stability to an otherwise inexperienced line-up. She lived up to her reputation and played a fluent 78 in the first innings. Her contribution may have been limited to the first innings but it set the tone for the others and inspired them to step up and perform.
Verma was adjudged the player of this match and rightly so. She put up an extraordinary display of stroke play in both innings and even though it was her debut, it felt as if she was a veteran in the format. She reminded fans of Virender Sehwag with her free-flowing stroke play and fearless brand of batting. In the first innings, she fell agonizingly short of a century (96) on debut when Kate Cross trapped her LBW. She continued her good form into the second innings with a fluent 63. At 17 years, she seems like an absolute future superstar for Indian cricket.
The savior of this match. It was her determination to sail the team across when all hope seemed lost that made the difference. She scored a fighting 80 not out and blunted a ferocious English attack. It was the kind of rearguard that we saw from Ashwin and Vihari against the Aussies in Sydney. Sticking along with the wagging tail and producing a hard-fought draw will inspire many girls to take up the sport. Her batting heroics came after she picked up four crucial wickets in the first innings. Rana has become a beacon of unflinching perseverance and grit.
Shikha Pandey and Taniya Bhatia
Sneh Rana could not have secured a draw on the final day all on her own. Cricket is a team sport and partnerships form the cornerstone of the game. It was imperative for Rana to have solid support from the other end to keep going. And oh boy, both Pandey and Bhatia rose to the occasion phenomenally. Both of them gulped up close to 138 balls combined which translates to 23 overs. Bhatia scored an impressive 44 not out and was rock steady while Rana continued her firefighting from the other end. It was the 104 runs partnership between Rana and Bhatia that fatigued the English bowlers and Knight was forced to settle for a draw.