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T20 headache shoots up 

Guwahati, March 4

India suffered a crushing 41-run loss to England in the first T20I of the three-match series with Smriti Mandhana making a forgettable captaincy debut.

India struggled to 119/6 after Tammy Beaumont (62) and skipper Heather Knight (40) steered England to 160/4 in 20 overs. Openers Beaumont and Danielle Wyatt (35) provided an ideal launchpad to England with an 89-run stand. Skipper Knight was in full flow towards the end, smashing seven fours in her 20-ball cameo.

India suffered a disastrous start, losing their top-3, including the in-form Smriti, for 23. Mithali Raj (7) too could not do much and contributions from Veda Krishnamurthy (15) Deepti Sharma (22*), Arundhati Reddy (18) and Shikha Pandey (23*) did not prove to be enough in the end.

Lot to do

The loss, India’s fifth in a row in the shortest format, showed the WV Raman-coached side has a lot of work to do before the T20I World Cup in Australia early next year. India lost all their T20Is in New Zealand after winning the ODI series and things are heading in a similar direction against England with two more games to go. Ahead of the second T20I on Thursday, the momentum is with the visitors who also won the third and final ODI. 

Smriti, who became India’s youngest T20I captain at 22, said India’s bowling should have been tighter in the death overs. “We gave away 10-15 runs extra at the end. We did not have a great start with the bat as well. I am really happy with the way Arundhati Reddy, Shikha Pandey and Deepti Sharma batted at the end. That’s a positive for us. I don’t think anyone has gone back and seen the statistics. Every day we come out looking to win the match not thinking about what’s happened in the past,” said Smriti.

England captain Knight was all praise for her teammates. “Felt like we had a break in the last ODI where the girls showed great character to win the game. The ball was coming on nicely here. Tammy was going well at the other end. Delighted to contribute in the team’s win,” she said. 

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