Smriti Mandhana leads India’s ride to T20 win over England | Women’s cricket

India cruised to an eight-wicket win in the second T20 at Derby, leveling the series with a match to play after chasing a target of 143 runs in 17 overs.

England had fought back from 54 for five in the 10th over to post a total of 142 for six thanks to a superb half-century from 17-year-old Freya Kemp, who became the youngest woman to reach the milestone in T20 internationals.

But India punished the left-arm bowling severely, with Shafali Verma (20 off 17) and Smriti Mandhana smashing 19 runs from one over en route to an opening stand of 55 off 35 balls.

Verma was caught and bowled by Sophie Ecclestone at the end of the powerplay, but Mandana powered a 36-ball half-century. Along with her, Harmanpreet Kaur – dropped by Danni Wyatt at deep midwicket on 20 – cruised to 29no from 22 balls as India cruised home.

Ever since Kemp made her England debut against South Africa in July, ostensibly for her seam bowling, she has been itching to showcase her skills with the bat. but in the late middle class, the opportunities to do so were few on the ground.

But on Tuesday, having shared a 65-run partnership in eight overs with Maia Bouchier (34 off 26), Kemp finally came to the party. Bouchier fell in the 18th over but Kemp went on to bring up her half-century in style from the penultimate ball of the innings with a four straight down the ground after earlier hitting three sixes over the top. She is the first woman to score a fifty in T20 Internationals by batting outside the top six.

England had made a difficult start, finding themselves three down in three overs – setting up their worst powerplay since March 2021. In-form Sophia Dunkley went into the second over, faltered after going down the ground and took a huge swing at Deepti Sharma’s first ball . In the next over, Renuka Singh Thakur had enough movement outside off to tempt Wyatt to beat one to slip.

England's Freya Kemp bats out during her unbeaten 51 in the T20 International against India.
England’s Freya Kemp is struck out during her unbeaten 51 off 37 balls. Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Kaur had partly blamed India’s loss in the opening T20 in Durham on an injury to Radha Yadav, who hurt her shoulder diving on the pitch and was unable to bowl. But Yadav didn’t seem overly affected. Her diving stop at deep extra cover in the third over not only prevented Alice Capsey’s boundary but left the young batsman running out after Yadav quickly fed the ball back to Kaur in the ring.

In the eighth over, Yadav sprinted from long-on to take a spectacular dive, sending Bryony Smith back into the dugout and giving Sneh Rana the first of her three wickets.

Despite Kemp’s heroics, England never quite recovered.

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