India took an eight-wicket win in the second T20 at Derby, leveling the series with one game left after chasing their goal of 143 runs in 17 overs.
England had fought back from 54 for five in 10th to place a total of 142 for six thanks to a brilliant half-century from 17-year-old Freya Kemp, who became the youngest woman to reach the milestone in T20 internationals. But India severely punished the left arm bowling, with Shafali Verma (20 of 17) and Smriti Mandhana crushing 19 runs from her, en route to an opening score of 55 from 35 balls.
Verma fell caught and bowled by Sophie Ecclestone at the end of the power play, but Mandhana went through with a 36-ball half-century. Beside her, Harmanpreet Kaur – put down by Danni Wyatt at deep midwicket at 20 – sailed along to 29no from 22 balls as India ran home.
“Every time we hit together, we feel confident in how to calculate the innings,” said Harmanpreet. “We know when to push the boundaries and grab those singles.”
Ever since Kemp made her England debut against South Africa in July, ostensibly for her seam bowling, she’s been eager to show off her bat skills; but in the late middle order the chances of doing so were thin on the ground.
But on Tuesday, she shared a partnership of 65 runs in eight overs with Maia Bouchier (34 of 26), hitting three sixes on the way to her fifty.
“She’s a cool character, nothing really puts her off,” Ecclestone said. “We all know what she can do with the bat — it was just a matter of giving her a shot and throwing her there, and she went out and proved herself tonight.”
England trailed three in three overs, putting on their worst power play since March 2021. Sophia Dunkley was dumped from Deepti Sharma in the second over, while six balls later Renuka Singh Thakur got just enough movement to tempt Wyatt to get one and slip.
Harmanpreet had partially attributed India’s defeat in the first T20 to an injury to Radha Yadav, who was unable to bowl after hurting her shoulder in the field. But Yadav didn’t seem overly moved. Her dive stop on deep extra cover in the third over not only prevented an Alice Capsey boundary, but also caused the batter to run out after Yadav quickly handed the ball back to Harmanpreet on the ring.
In the eighth over, Yadav sprinted from long to front to make a spectacular dive catch, Bryony Smith back to the dugout and handed Sneh Rana the first of three wickets. Despite Kemp’s exploits, England never fully recovered.