England’s bid for a Commonwealth Games gold medal ended after they fell agonizingly short in a nerve-wracking chase against India at Edgbaston.
Set on 165, which would have been their highest successful T20 chase at home, England needed 12 from the last two balls, but Maia Bouchier could only get a single off the penultimate delivery.
There was little in the way of consolation when Sophie Ecclestone cleared the rope off the last ball as England lost by four runs, with India entering the final to face either Australia or New Zealand.
England must therefore dust themselves off for a bronze medal match on Sunday against the losers from the other semi-final, and captain Nat Sciver admitted the prospect of defeat had not crossed their minds.
“I’m exhausted. It’s such a small margin game, T20,” said Sciver, who has been deputizing as skipper for the injured Heather Knight during the Games.
– Any loss is difficult to take, we obviously wanted to be in the gold medal game and had not considered not (being in the final).
“It’s going to be a tough afternoon, probably a few quiet people, but playing for a medal is something we’ve wanted to do ever since we heard about the Commonwealth Games. We will be out in full force for that.”
England entered the knockout stage having won all six T20s this summer, including all three group matches at a gallop, but they were put under immediate pressure as Smriti Mandhana collected boundaries at will, registering 45 of India’s first 50 runs after they had won the toss. .
Mandhana made a duck in India’s 2017 50-over World Cup final defeat to England at Lord’s but reached her half-century in just 23 balls in Birmingham, unleashing sixes from Issy Wong, Sciver and Sarah Glenn as India raced to 73 for no loss after seven transitions into a whirlwind start.
They added six runs off the next three overs as England fought back the initiative, with Mandhana out for 61 off 32 balls as a ramp from Sciver’s off-cutter went to short fine leg. India captain Harmanpreet Kaur added a run-a-ball 20 before striking out, but Jemimah Rodrigues was given a reprieve.
In the 15th, Rodrigues struck for fresh air after advancing down the track to leg-spinner Glenn, but wicketkeeper Amy Jones fumbled the ball and missed a simple bounce, with India’s number three clubbing an unbeaten 44 off 31 balls to lift India to a competitive 164 for five. .
England raced to 58 for one after the powerplay, with Sophia Dunkley collecting a breezy 19 off 10 balls, but Alice Capsey was the first of three run outs after being sent back with a try, diving back into her groove but unable to to ground the bat. , while Danni Wyatt led to his own stumps on 35.
Sciver and Jones consolidated as England reached 113 for three after 14 overs, identical to their opponents at the same stage, but the India spinners consistently managed to curb the scoring rate.
Back-to-back fours from Jones released some pressure but she ran herself out for 31 off 24 balls in an attempt to sneak a single. With 27 needed from the last two overs, Sciver caught Indian seamer Sneh Rana for England’s first six and then a four before being run out on 41 and returning for a risky second.
Fourteen runs were needed from the last over, but with tension mounting, Indian off-spinner Deepti Sharma, who took one for 18 from an outstanding four overs, eased the nerves of an England team with seven under-25 players.
England head coach Lisa Keightley said: “We had some nerves out there and we didn’t take our chances – dropped a couple of catches, missed a bump and we were just a bit messy.
“With the bat, we needed someone to kick on and put India under some pressure. It’s bad to miss out trying to get the first Commonwealth Games gold, but it was a fantastic game of cricket.”