India’s new head coach Amol Majumdar has emphasized that the upcoming home series against England and Australia will be an important gauge of the team’s preparation for the T20 World Cup in 2024. However, the first T20I against England at the Wankhede Stadium proved to be challenging. India had to face a crushing defeat by 38 runs.
Despite a great start after winning the toss and electing to bowl first, India were on the backfoot early on and Renuka Singh Thakur made an impressive comeback, taking wickets in consecutive balls in the first over. After this, England’s Danielle Wyatt and Natalie Sciver-Brunt made a tremendous partnership of 138 runs, taking England to a strong score of 197/6. In reply, India collapsed to 159/6, led by Shafali Verma’s commendable half-century.
In particular, England’s improved bowling and fielding efforts, led by world No. 1 bowler Sophie Ecclestone’s remarkable figures of 3/15, made a significant impact. Wyatt and Sciver-Brunt showcased their batting skills, disrupting India’s bowling plans with a dynamic counterattack, maintaining an impressive boundary-hit frequency throughout the innings.
India’s revamped bowling attack, which featured the return of Renuka Singh Thakur and debutants Saika Ishaq and Shreyanka Patil, faced challenges as England targeted the spinners and took advantage of the bowlers’ inconsistency in length. While Sayaka and Shreyanka showed promise, they also learned valuable lessons in terms of controlling their lines and executing laid out plans.
Despite Muzumdar’s commitment to improving India’s fielding, there were crucial misses, with dropped catches by Shreyanka and Pooja Vastrakar proving costly. Ecclestone’s mastery of varying speeds and trajectories further thwarted India’s chances, as he took key wickets, including the dismissal of skipper Harmanpreet and Shafali.
Harmanpreet admitted a tough night for the new-look bowling unit, and stressed the need for quick learning as India aim to bounce back in the upcoming back-to-back matches over the weekend. The series against England serves as an important testing ground for the India team as they attempt to make a mark in preparation for the T20 World Cup in 2024.