A fairytale ending befitting her glorious career marked Jhulan Goswami’s final waltz as India Women defeated England by 16 runs in the third and final ODI to record their first clean sweep in the country. That the feat was accomplished in the Mecca of Cricket – Lord’s – made it doubly satisfying. Battered, India was all out for a paltry 169, and at the time it seemed as if the tourists had fallen many points short of making the match a memorable one for their legendary navigator, who is retiring after two decades of incredible service to the game.
However, the Indians were able to clinch a win as Charlotte Dean (47) was controversially disallowed for backing up.
Dean, who nearly took a stunning win for the hosts after reeling 65 to seven and then 103 to eight, was off her ground and Deepti Sharma simply held the ball to clear bail, leaving the English stunned .
Recently, while the game terms were changed, ICC had moved this kind of layoff from “unfair play” to “run out.” The changes would come into effect on October 1.
As expected, the day revolved around 39-year-old warhorse Jhulan Goswami, who leaves the scene as the top wicket-taker in women’s cricket, starting her journey way back in 2002.
Harmanpreet Kaur, who made Jhulan call off the toss with a touching gesture, couldn’t hold back her tears even as the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) planned to name a stand in the Eden Gardens after the ‘Chakdaha Express’ .
She finished with excellent marks of 2/30 in her entire quota of 10 overs, including three maiden overs.
The competitive Indian has seen the game evolve during her long journey marked by some unforgettable moments and a few unpleasant days.
While she wasn’t expected to be at her peak in her last streak, Jhulan did enough on her own to go out on a climax after bowling cleanly in her last three caps.
She was lucky to have her first wicket of the day with a short, her second scalp came when pacesetter Kate Cross threw her ball number 10001 in ODIs, again something no other player has achieved England captain Amy Jones’ decision to field seemed to have paid dividends at first as India continued to lose wickets at regular intervals only to be bundled into 45.4 overs. India was in big trouble fairly early in their innings with 29 for four, but they came the rebound.
Allrounder Deepti Sharma scored the highest score for the visitors with an unbeaten 68 from 106 balls, while opener Smriti Mandhana was the second highest scorer, scoring exactly 50 runs in 79 deliveries.
Other than these two, and to some extent Pooja Vastrakar (22), none of the Indian batters could make a substantial contribution to the final game of the series, which the tourists had won in the first two games.
Among England bowlers, medium pacer Kate Cross returned with excellent figures of 4/26, while there were two wickets for Freya Kemp and Sophie Ecclestone.
Horrified by back-to-back setbacks in their own lair, England went into the game looking to stop the Indian juggernaut and score a consolation win. When the two teams walked back to the locker room at the end of the first innings, England appeared to be on the right track.
However, after a steady start, England got their first blow when Yastika Singh made an excellent punch to mark the end of Emma Lamb’s (21) stay in the middle, the successful bowler being Renuka Singh.
Tammy Beaumont (8) played in her 100th game and was knocked out by Renuka, then Jhulan got involved in the heat of the game, knocking Alice Capsey out for 5.
Sophia Dunkley (7) also fell cheaply to Renuka, while England slid over to 43 for four in the 12th. It turned 53 for five in the next over when left arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad hit the top of Danni Wyatt’s center punch.
Sophie Ecclestone barely lasted three balls and Gayakwad struck again, leaving the hosts staggering at 53 for six in the 15th left.
Deepti Sharma emerged from her priceless half century and was responsible for Freya Kemp (5) as India moved closer to victory.
England appeared to have found their savior in the duo of skipper Jones (28) and Charlie Dean, but Renuka sent the former back to keep India ahead.
The last time the Indian women won an ODI series in England was in 1999 when they won 2-1.
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