The Big Picture
If you want to know what's exactly ailing Women's T20 cricket, the third T20I paints a clear as a crystal image of it, leaving any doubts that it has reached its nadir. For, how would you explain that a side that was in control of the run-chase , was unable to score three runs in the last over with a premier batter [Read: Mithali Raj] at the crease as England defended the lowest number of ever in the history of Women T20Is to script a memorable 3-0 whitewash.
Once again, Indian spinners had done a good job in restricting England to an under-par 6-119 after 20 overs. As in the first two games, the English openers have got their side to a great start, putting up 51 runs for the first wicket in just 7.2 overs. But, Anuja snared both the openers' to inflict a collapse of 3-4. The visitors could not get any sort of momentum to their innings post the collapse as Ekta Bisht and Harleen Deol claimed regular wickets to restrict them to 6-119.
Chasing 120, India looked in total command when Smriti Mandhana was blazing away. The Indian captain finally got going after successive failures in the first two games to anchor her sides' run-chase with a 39-ball 58; an innings which included eight fours and one six. After losing Harleen Deol cheaply, Mandhana stitched a 49-run partnership with Jemimah Rodrigues  before the latter was adjudged LBW off Linsey Smith.
With Mithali Raj scoring at a strike-rate of less than a hundred, it was imperative for Mandhana to see India through but Laura Marsh castled her stumps to land the Women in Blue a body-blow. Deepti Sharma, then threw her wicket away in a brain-fade moment of her own as he miscalculated her dive in the process of getting a couple and was comfortably run-out.
With 18 required off the last three overs, Mithali Raj scored two boundaries off Natalie Sciver to reduce the equation down to a very manageable nine off the last 12 balls and backed it up with another boundary the last ball of the 19th over off Anya Shrubsole. On any day, India or any other side would have knocked off the requisite three runs but what happened next was a reflection of an underconfident side; a side that has become accustomed to losing a game from strong positions; a side which seems to have lost the belief that they win from any situation.
And, so when Bharati Fulmali played out three consecutive dot balls in the final over, the panic button had just been pressed again. Desperate situations seek desperate measures, which is what we saw from Fulmali when she was out caught by Shubsole while Anuja Patil was stumped as a helpless Mithali Raj watched on from the non-striker's end to what will go down as one of the most heartbreaking moments in Women Cricket history.
Do you know?
Saturday's loss was India's seventh successive loss in T20I cricket. Their last win came in a league encounter against Australia during the World T20. Since then, the Women in Blue have suffered the ignominy of back-to-back series whitewash at the hands of England & the White Ferns' and a semi-final exit from the World Twenty20.
England [6-119, Tammy Beaumont 29, Amy Jones 26, Anuja Patil 2-13] beat India [6-118, Smriti Mandhana 58, Mithali Raj 30*, Kate Cross 2-18] by one run