England women win World Cup

July 24, 2017

English cricket fans may not have been able to witness the men winning the ICC Champions Trophy, but the women's team has provided plenty to cheer by winning their World Cup.

In front of a sell-out final crowd at Lord's, the England side held their nerve in an incredibly tense finish as India's pursuit of a target of 229 crumbled and the home team eventually triumphed by nine runs.

Having won the toss, England chose to bat but found themselves in trouble on a slow, green pitch at 63-3 before Natalie Sciver and Sarah Taylor out the side back on course with a stand of 83 for the fourth wicket.

However, after Taylor was caught down leg side, Jhulan Goswami trapped Fran Wilson lbw for a duck. Sciver made 51 - the top score of the innings - but after she fell lbw, it looked like England would fall short of a defendable target. 

A late flurry saw the home side to 228-7 and they got off to a great start with the ball when Anya Shrubsole bowled opener Smriti Mandhana for a duck. Captain Mithali Raj was just getting going when she was run-out, and England seemed well ahead as Poonam Raut and Harmanpreet Kaur set about playing themselves in to rebuild the innings. 

However, the pair soon assumed control and accelerated the scoring, adding 95 before Kaur was caught slog-sweeping to square leg. 

England's hopes of further inroads were hit by a missed stumping by Taylor and a dropped catch by Heather Knight, but just as India seemed on course at 191-3 Shrubsole began the bowling spell of her life.

She began by trapping Raut for 86, before wickets started tumbling. Sushma Verma was bowled behind her legs for a duck trying to sweep Alex Hartley before Shribsole had Veda Krishnamurthy caught at mid-on and bowled Goswami for a duck. 

At 201-7, India were teetering, but later resistance took the score to 218 before Shikha Pandey was run-out and Cheeta Sharma skied Shrubsole to Sciver to give the pace bowler her fifth wicket.

There was still drama as Poonam chipped Shrubsole straight to Jenny Gunn, who spilled the simple catch at mid-off. However, a ball later Shrubsole swung one through the defences of Rajeshwari Gayakwad to finish with 6-46 and it was all over.

England's dramatic victory will certainly have caught the imagination of anyone who was in the packed crowd, or who saw the wild celebrations on the TV.

This may not be the only cricketing occasion this summer to attract a new audience, with fans booking corporate hospitality for the Edgbaston Test next month due to be among those witnessing history in the making as England play the West Indies in the first ever day-night Test in this country. 

England's men will hope that when they take the field with a pink ball they can provide as much excitement as the women have with the white ball.

For the men's team to face any kind of rivalry for the English cricketing public's affections is a novelty, but here they are. As matchwinner Anya Shrubsole said when speaking to the BBC afterwards: "Women's cricket has gone through the roof since 2009.

"This is a watershed moment, to be playing at Lord's in front of a sell-out crowd in a World Cup final.

"You just don't think those things are going to happen. It's unbelievable."

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