Harmanpreet Kaur’s 143 leads India Women to ODI series victory over England

On Wednesday morning, the ECB announced an ambitious Women’s Ashes 2023 fixture list, including inaugural visits to Lord’s, the Oval and Edgbaston; and a five-day trial at Trent Bridge. It’s a schedule designed to reflect the apparent pre-eminence of England and Australia in world women’s cricket – these two teams are the ones worth featuring. In the evening, Harmanpreet Kaur had enjoyed breaking that assumption into little pieces and placing them in a metaphorical wastebasket.

In a series-sealing performance at Canterbury, the India captain scored an imperious 143 not out of 111 balls as India racked up a total of 333 from five, second highest against England in ODIs. Kaur sealed the deal by shutting out local hero Tammy Beaumont in the second over of England’s chase with a direct strike from the middle.

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“It wasn’t easy ground to hit,” Kaur said. “I didn’t try too many shots, too many things, I just kept it very simple.”

England stumbled 47-for-three into the power play: Renuka Singh Thakur (four-for-53) picking up Sophia Dunkley and Emma Lamb cheaply, and though half a century from Danni Wyatt at No. 5 offered some resistance, Thakur returned in 30 over and over again. he broke through his defenses. England held on until 45, but were eventually eliminated by 245, falling to their first series loss at home to a team other than Australia since 2007.

England had looked to bolster their bowling game by bringing in Lauren Bell and left arm Freya Kemp, who received her ODI cap from Wyatt before the game. But the two young seamstresses were bruised by Kaur’s attack. Bell conceded an England ODI record 79 runs from her 10 overs, until Kemp “improved” it minutes later, conceding 82.

“It’s been tough,” admitted backup captain Amy Jones, after being reluctantly cast in the role in Heather Knight’s absence. “It has been very new. In over-50 cricket, it’s something I haven’t done before. There is much more time to make decisions.

“After the second drinking break, they put a lot of pressure on us and hit the limit quite often. It was very difficult to play bowling”.

Kaur celebrates being without Tammy Beaumont. Photograph: Steven Paston/PA

Curiously, the option to bring Lamb’s spin into play was ignored, despite the fact that Charlie Dean was the cheapest bowler in England. After asking India to bat first, Kate Cross, opening from the end of the pavilion at her 50th ODI, had cleanly dropped Shafali Verma on her third ball. But Smriti Mandhana and Yastika Bhatia picked up where they left off in the first ODI, sharing another half-century partnership. Along the way, Mandhana became the third Indian (after Mithali Raj and Kaur herself) to achieve 3,000 ODI runs.

Bhatia was caught and thrown by Dean for 26, and while the Decision Review System only worked intermittently, it managed to show up long enough to prove Mandhana was BPN for Sophie Ecclestone at 20. However, from there , Kaur and Harleen Deol (58 of 72) steadied the ship with a 113-run partnership for fourth wicket; before Kaur made sure the innings finished strong. In the final three overs, 62 runs were scored as Kaur, having upped his century to exactly one run per ball in the 47th, took just 11 more deliveries to add another 43.

“England have a very good batting line-up, and we knew if we scored 300, that could be chased,” Kaur said. “That’s why in the last five or six overs we were looking for maximum runs. Whoever came to bat with me, I was giving them that message: If they can push boundaries, that’s fine, otherwise we have to keep rotating the strike.”

Without the experience of Knight and Nat Sciver, this would always be a difficult series for England to navigate. Still, none of this bodes well for next year’s big Ashes series. At that point, England have to trade the blood of a new manager and hope that Knight returns fit as a fiddle, as no one else seems to want the hot potato of captaincy. It could be nine interesting months.

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