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England v India: Shafali Verma stars as tourists win to set up decider

India 148-4 (20 overs): Verma 48 (38), Kaur 31 (25)
England 140-8 (20 overs): Beaumont 59 (50); Poonam 2-17
India (2pts) won by eight runs; England lead multi-format series 8-6

The multi-format series between England and India started 26 days ago, but we still don’t know who is going to win it, after the tourists set up a decider with a thrilling eight-run victory in the second Twenty20 international in Hove.

England, who lead 8-6, cannot lose with two points available from the third and final T20 match on Wednesday, which is live on BBC Two (18:00 BST).

India got off to a blistering start, with Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana sharing 70 for the first wicket, before some brilliant England bowling restricted them to 148-4.

England were cruising at 106-2 in reply but, in a spell of just 19 balls, they slipped to 125-6. That, combined with some excellent India bowling and fielding, left them with too much to do as they finished 140-8.

Here, BBC Sport rounds up the key moments of a match that yo-yoed one way and another.

‘This girl is so good at cricket’

Aged just 17, Verma arrived in England as the world’s number one-ranked T20 batter.

She dominated pre-series conversation and has been part of a captivating battle with England veteran Katherine Brunt, who is 19 years her senior.

Here, she showed zero fear, and some may say respect, for Brunt – hitting five successive fours in the fourth over.

It was another example of the right-hander’s breathtaking talent. Here is how she did it:

  • 3.2 overs: A banged-in delivery from Brunt is muscled to the mid-wicket boundary by Verma.
  • 3.3 overs: A length ball is heaved back down the ground by Verma.
  • 3.4 overs: Perhaps the best of the lot. Verma stands still and cleverly cuts through backward point.
  • 3.5 overs: Heaved through mid-on and mid-wicket. It wasn’t quite timed, but it was four more!
  • 3.6 overs: Short again from Brunt, and Verma has to reach for it, above her head, but still smashes it over mid-wicket.

Former England spinner Alex Hartley perhaps said it best on Test Match Special: “This girl is so good at cricket.”

What was maybe even more impressive on Sunday was the way she took on the short ball. England have successfully targeted her with that in recent games, but Verma has demonstrated her ability to learn on the job.

‘We gave it away’

How did England lose that?

It’s a good question, and one we might be not be able to answer. England captain Heather Knight said her side “gave it away” and weren’t “ruthless”.

At 106-2, needing 43 from 38 balls, England will have expected to triumph.

A mixture of superb India fielding, poor running – there were four run outs in total – and some bad luck contributed. Here’s how the collapse happened:

  • 106-3: Tammy Beaumont is given out lbw, and fails to overturn on review.
  • 106-4: Knight is run out at the non-striker’s end after the ball deflects off bowler Deepti Sharma’s boot.
  • 120-5: Hesitation between Amy Jones and Sophia Dunkley sees the latter run out attempting a second run.
  • 125-6: India leave the deep square leg and deep fine leg boundaries unoccupied, and a tempted Jones hits straight to a nearby fielder.
  • 134-7: Katherine Brunt is caught behind off Poonam Yadav’s 35mph delivery as she looks to cut.
  • 137-8: Another run out as Mady Villiers is caught out taking on a second run.

England head coach Lisa Keightley has spoken about wanting to see her side in pressure situations and how she wants to find a finisher. That search is still ongoing, based on today.

‘She is playing for her future’

Danni Wyatt stats graphic

“Danni Wyatt will be oh so aware that, in every game, she is playing for her future,” said Test Match Special commentator Henry Moeran after the England opener fell for just three.

The right-hander was left out of the one-day series due to “competition for places”, and her recent international form has seen her pass 30 twice in their last 18 T20 innings, and 25 once in 11 one-day innings.

With Lauren Winfield-Hill, Georgia Adams, Emma Lamb, Georgia Elwiss and Fran Wilson among those pushing from the sidelines, Wyatt has to find runs.

The moment she picked out Harmanpreet Kaur at mid-off she looked up to the sky and closed her eyes, before muttering to herself.

A score needs to be around the corner.

What next?

The final game in the multi-format series is at Chelmsford on Wednesday. The match starts at 18:30 BST, and is live on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app.

India need to win, and take the final two points, to level the series at 8-8.

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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