England women won the second ODI at Scarborough – and therefore the series – thanks to another ton from their skipper Charlotte Edwards. Raf Nicholson was watching a day that mixed luck and skill.
There is good luck, and there is talent.
England, you would have to say, exhibited a bit of both today.
They could not have set anything like a competitive total without Charlotte Edwards’ 108. As it was, they set India a target of 215: Edwards finishing with over 50 per cent of their runs.
It was an innings, at times, of consummate skill, featuring some exquisite lofted drives as she batted in partnership with Sarah Taylor. But it was also an innings made possible by luck.
There were multiple run-out chances today between the normally composed Edwards and opening partner Heather Knight. It was Knight, ultimately, who became the victim of their miscommunication, as she was sent back by her captain attempting a single, and run out at the non-striker’s end with a direct hit from Pandey at mid-on. It could so easily have been Edwards.
She was also dropped by Indian keeper Karu Jain, who shelled a simple aerial catch behind the stumps as Edwards lofted one upwards when on 80.
Either of these dismissals could have been disastrous for England. As it was, Edwards remained at the crease to anchor the innings.
Lucky or not today, Edwards now has nine hundreds to her name, making her the leading centurion in women’s ODIs. That is not a record one achieves through luck. It is an even more impressive record if you consider that centuries do not happen often in women’s ODIs. Her innings today brought to mind several others: her last century against India, during the 2013 World Cup, similarly grafted for; her first century at Scarborough, back in 2004, in a Test against New Zealand.
Yet this century, you sensed, was special: perhaps even more so because runs did not come easily early in her innings. As she hit the ball to backward square-leg for the boundary which would take her to her century, she watched it go and punched the air, the picture of joy.
It might not, though, have been enough: this was a tight-fought game that went down to the wire. India, after 35 overs, were 141-5, requiring 74 runs for victory off 15 overs. It looked eminently doable.
India had been helped into this position by an England who looked a shadow of the team who had contested the first ODI. They spilled several key chances in the field, including two off India’s most talented batsmen. Lauren Winfield dropped Mithali Raj as she top-edged it to the deep mid-wicket boundary. And the usually brilliant Lydia Greenway dropped a sitter at point off the talented Indian opener, Smitri Mandhana, when she was on 15.
Winfield’s mistake cost England just three runs (Raj was out three overs later, for 30). Greenway’s cost them 17 (Mandhana made 32). Either could have cost them the game.
Yet England were rescued by another display of skill, from the player who appears to be in the form of her career: Jenny Gunn. She finished with figures of 4-23 off her 10 overs. And there was nothing lucky about the two incredible catches she took to help wrap up the Indian innings. The first, a superb caught and bowled as she clutched wildly at Jhulan Goswami’s drive and clung on. The second, to dismiss Harmanpreet Kaur for 43, as she jumped up at the long-on boundary and grasped it in her safe hands.
Gunn, at least, was not taking any chances.
England were lucky, ultimately, that their lacklustre performance in the field, and the collapse of their middle order around the immoveable Edwards, did not matter. As it was, they managed to bowl their opponents out for 201, in the 49th over – a 13-run victory. With today’s victory came the series, with England 2-0 up with one game left to play, at Lord’s on Monday.
Lucky for some.