ENGLAND won the Women’s World Cup final in the most dramatic fashion against India at Lord’s.
The hosts were staring at defeat with India, chasing a modest 229 to win, cruising along at 190 for three.
But a late collapse, sparked by five wickets in 19 balls from Anya Shrubsole, saw England snatch an unlikely victory by nine runs.
A memorable match felt like a milestone occasion for the game, and for women’s sport in this country.
The home of cricket was sold out while the worldwide television audience was expected to top 100million – and even the ticket touts were out in force all the way from St John’s Wood station to the Grace Gate.
England had lost to India in their opening game but impressive victories in the next six made them favourites to add to the cups they won in 1973, 1993 – both before women were admitted to the MCC – and 2009.
Captain Heather Knight won the toss and chose to bat first, but she had departed for one when talisman Natalie Sciver, dubbed the Ben Stokes of the women’s team, arrived in the middle with England 63 for three.
Sciver and Sarah Taylor put on 83 for the fourth wicket, but both were victims of a stunning spell of three wickets for two runs off 10 balls by fast bowler Jhulan Goswami.
There was no sign of the ‘Natmeg’, the through-the-legs shot which has helped make Sciver one of the stars of the tournament, as the circumstances called for a little more introspection.
The only woman to make two centuries at this World Cup reached another 50, but added just one more run before she was trapped by Goswami.
Katherine Brunt made a breezy 34 and Jenny Gunn an unbeaten 25, but England’s total of 228 for seven appeared distinctly gettable.
Yet Shrubsole got England off to a dream start as India began their reply, nicking the off-stump of the dangerous Smriti Mandhana for a duck in the second over.