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Indian eves face England in do or die contest
Sports Reporter

Smriti Mandhana during a practice session ahead of the 2nd T20I against England at the ACA Stadium in Guwahati, on Wednesday. – PTI
 GUWAHATI, March 6 - After suffering a 41-run defeat in the first T20I against England, the Indian women’s team is in a must win situation to keep the series alive.

The immediate challenge for the Smriti Mandhana-led side is to halt India’s five-match losing spree in the format and keep the T20I series alive when they take on a spirited England side in the second match at the ACA Stadium in Barsapara here tomorrow.

The loss on Monday – India’s fifth in a row in the shortest format, meant that the WV Raman-coached side has a lot of work to do before the T20 World Cup in Australia early next year.

India lost all their T20s in New Zealand after winning the ODI series and things seems to be heading in a similar fashion against England.

The absence of power-hitter Harmanpreet Kaur in the run chase was felt immensely. The regular T20 captain is nursing an injury.

In Kaur’s absence, ODI captain Mithali Raj was expected to play a bigger role in the three T20s but she failed to seize the opportunity scoring just 7.

On the other hand, England might have struggled to cope with India’s spin attack in the ODIs on the slow wicket of Wankhede, but once they were presented a wicket that aided stroke-play, the visitors rendered two of India’s otherwise reliable spinners – Deepti Sharma and Radha Yadav – ineffective. In fact, barring in-form Shikha Pandey and Poonam Yadav, none of the Indian bowlers were able to contain the English top order that piled on runs at will.

Heather Knight, in the middle of her brutal assault, hit Arundhati Reddy for five consecutive boundaries in an over as England racked up 160 from their allotted overs, before defending it rather easily. England would be particularly happy to see Tammy Beaumont back amongst runs and as a reliable back-up keeper after an ordinary ODI series, and the fact that left-arm spinner Linsey Smith gave India a taste of their own medicine.

India’s chances of chasing down the stiff target hinged on the kind of platform the in-form Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues laid, the kind the team has become increasingly dependent on. However, the pair fell for their first single-digit score in nine and five innings respectively, on back-to-back deliveries to Smith, to peg India back early in their chase. The encouraging signs though were the runs coming from other than the likes of Mandhana, Rodrigues and Mithali Raj. India’s four successive losses since the 2018 World T20 had followed a similar pattern of hurtling to defeats due to middle-order collapses. But the fight shown in their fifth loss had a silver lining for India going ahead and in building towards the 2020 T20 World Cup.

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