England defeated India by nine runs in a nerve testing final of the ICC Women’s World Cup on Sunday. The match, which was firmly under India’s control, was pegged back in England’s favour, as seamer Anya Shrubsole triggered a late collapse wither bowling spell of 6/46.
England’s captain Heather Knight was all praise for her side’s fighting spirit and stated that her side has handled pressure productively throughout the tournament.
The Royal Comeback
After being set a target of a modest 229, victory looked in India’s basket, as they stood at 191 for three at one stage before a Shrubsole caused the collapse. India went on to lose next seven wickets for just 28 runs and ended up 9 short of the target, bowled out for 219 with 1.2 overs to spare.
“Every game of cricket you have you try and win and you’re fighting for the trophy, fighting for your team mates, fighting for your country and we knew that if we kept it (required rate) around five, six, cricket is a funny game and pressure is a funny thing,” Knight said.
“Obviously in a World Cup final we knew if we held our nerve we’d be in with a chance, it did feel like it was slipping away a little bit at 3 for 190 but we fought it out this tournament and today was no different. I’m so proud of the girls and Anya about how we fought back, it’s been a theme of the tournament, us fighting hard and holding our nerve which we did today luckily.”
Knight was particularly happy with the performances of Alex Hartley and Laura Marsh. Hartley picked up the key wicket of Harmanpreet Kaur and Sushma Verma while Marsh held a tight line to give nothing away that easily.
“Credit to all the bowlers they’ve all been outstanding but Alex Hartley has been a real sort of gem this tournament, she loves to get the superstars out by the looks of it, she bowls better to the best players in the world than she seems to do to everyone else, although she probably hasn’t got as many wickets as some of the other spinners in the other teams. The wickets she’s got for us have been key wickets in massive games and she’s been outstanding this trip,” Knight added.
The Costly Drop
Eventually, the game was brought down to 14 from 18 balls. The match could have swung from that stage although England had India under pressure. At that crucial time, Jenny Gunn dropped Poonam Yadav. There was a scare in the England camp but luckily it did not prove to be costly, as Shrubsole removed last woman standing Rajeshwari Gayakwad off the very next delivery to help England register its fourth World Cup win after 1973, 1993 and 2009 trophies.
“It felt like she dropped the World Cup, to be honest, it was a hard one to deal with, I think we were slightly on top at that stage we knew it was quite a big ask for their 10, 11 to get those runs, but I thought we’d won it and then that drop went down. But at the end of the day, we got over the line and that’s the main thing,” admitted Knight.
Marsh and Hartley Did A Great Job
The England skipper also praised the support staff for their contributions and the ‘tough love’ that helped in the betterment of the team.
“We’ve had a lot of hurt in World Cups. Mark Robinson (head coach) has been instrumental to this team as has Ali Maiden (batting coach) and the rest of the coaching staff, they’ve really challenged us when we’ve needed it, they’ve annoyed us slightly at times with that tough love, he’s pushed us and he’s made some progress and made us believe as well,” added Knight.
Eyes Set On The Ashes Now
The jubilant ladies now have their eyes set on the Ashes, which they lost on home soil two years ago, to be played in Australia in October.
“As a team we have always said we are not finished up, we feel like we’ve got a lot of growth with this group of girls and whether this World Cup was too soon but turns out it isn’t but we’ve got a long way to go as a team, this isn’t the end of a journey. Obviously, we’ve got a massive winter ahead with the Ashes, it’s going to be a great contest, you saw in that contest at Bristol the sort of contest that our two teams can have. I’m getting excited already thinking about the Ashes down under, hopefully, they get the pay dispute sorted,” concluded Knight.