Smriti Mandhana 79* sees India run down England to level series

India 146 for 2 (Mandhana 79*) beat England 142 for 7 (Kemp 51*, Rana 3-24) by eight wickets

A glorious unbeaten half-century from Smriti Mandhana saw India to victory by eight wickets over England with 20 balls to spare in their second of three T20Is to level the series 1-1.

If this evening was anything to go by, the damp and dreary onset of autumn has so far been restricted to either end of the country. Durham had offered a soggy opening to the series on Saturday as England eased to a nine-wicket win in conditions that weren’t to India’s liking. Then London was enveloped in steady rain for a good part of Tuesday. The midlands, however, were clinging on to summer as England’s innings progressed in bright evening sunshine at Derby’s Incora County Ground.

That was arguably the most pleasant thing about it from the hosts’ perspective after they lurched from 16 for 3 to 54 for 5… until 17-year-old left-hander – or left-arm seamer to be more precise – Freya Kemp produced an innings-saving unbeaten half-century of her own. In the end, though it was the vastly more experienced Mandhana who countered Kemp’s effort with a brilliant 79 not out to set up a series decider in Bristol on Thursday.

Mandhana all class

Set a below-par target, thanks to England’s early collapse and a vastly improved performance in the field by India, Mandhana played the key role in reeling it in, facing 53 balls and finding the boundary 13 times.

She put on an opening stand worth 55 with Shafali Verma, who fell for 20 to a sharp return catch by Sophie Ecclestone and an unbroken partnership of 69 with Harmanpreet Kaur, who should have been out on 19 had Danni Wyatt not spilled a straightforward chance at deep midwicket.

Dayalan Hemalatha lost her off stump to a Freya Davies ball that beat the outside edge as the only other India batter to fall, and Mandhana brought up the winning runs with back-to-back fours off Davies, powered through midwicket and lofted over the bowler’s head towards long-off.

England stumble, India hold on

England started brightly enough when Sophia Dunkley clipped the third ball of match, from Renuka Singh, for four through midwicket and Wyatt nudged the fifth between backward point and short third. In the next over, however, Dunkley charged at Deepti Sharma’s first ball and was stumped by Richa Ghosh and Wyatt followed a short time later, edging Renuka to Sneh Rana at first slip.

A combination of excellent fielding – an area in which India were ragged in the opening match – and a blunder by Alice Capsey made it 16 for 3. Capsey had smashed Renuka through the covers and started coming back for a third run, seemingly unaware of Radha Yadav’s brilliant effort running round to her right in the deep and sprawling at full stretch to stop the ball short of the rope and fire it fluidly into Harmanpreet inside the ring. As Bryony Smith stood her ground at the non-striker’s end, so too did Capsey, flat-footed halfway back down the pitch, watching as Harmanpreet threw to the keeper, who fumbled but broke the stumps with Capsey still nowhere near.

India hadn’t completely eradicated their fielding errors with Pooja Vastrakar parrying what should have been a catch to remove Smith on 12 as she ran in from deep midwicket. But Smith fell next ball to a brilliant diving effort from Radha as she ran in from long-on off the bowling of Rana, who then had Amy Jones out attempting a reverse sweep to one that slid under the bat and clattered into off stump. Maia Bouchier, who shared a 65-run stand with Kemp, was also dropped on 25 by Kiran Navgire inside the ring, before Rana had her stumped to claim her third wicket.

Kemp shines

Playing her eighth T20I but batting for only the second time, Kemp came in at No. 7 and proceeded to resurrect the England innings with her 37-ball knock. She unleashed three sixes, twice lofting Radha down the ground to bookend her heave over deep midwicket off Renuka. She brought up her maiden international fifty with a straight-driven four off the penultimate ball of the innings and ended unbeaten on 51.

Kemp made her international debut at this ground against South Africa less than two months ago as England looked to revamp their T20 side ahead of the Commonwealth Games. Primarily picked for her bowling as England look beyond veteran seamers Anya Shrubsole, who has retired from international cricket, and Katherine Brunt, rested for India’s tour, she became the youngest Englishwomen to reach fifty in T20Is at 17 years and 145 days. She is also the second-youngest for England Women in international cricket after Sarah Taylor, who scored 61 in an ODI against India in 2006 aged 17 years and 96 days.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo

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