Anya Shrubsole’s Lord’s dream became the perfect fairytale after registering the best figures ever in an ICC Women’s World Cup final to help England to a thrilling nine-run victory over India on Sunday.
The fast bowler finished with impressive figures six for 46, including five for 11 late in the innings as India lost its last seven wickets for 28 runs to be bowled out for 219 in 48.4 overs after being set a 229-run target in front of a full-house.
India’s brave run-chase was led by opener Poonam Raut, who scored a brilliant 86, and Harmanpreet Kaur, who struck a fine 51.
Earlier, Natalie Sciver top-scored with 51 and Sarah Taylor contributed 45 as England was restricted to 228 for seven – thanks to excellent spell of fast bowling in the middle of the innings by Jhulan Goswami who picked up three wickets to reduce the home side from 146 for three to 164 for six.
This was England’s fourth world cup title, third successive on home soil with the other being in Sydney in 2009.
A delighted Shrubsole, who later won the player of the final, said: “Just an unbelievable game, it looked for a minute like we were out of it but one of the great things about this team is we never give up, Alex Hartley got that vital wicket of Harmanpreet and we never looked back from there.
“It’s more that you don’t want the game to be ruined by rain, it was just an amazing game from start to finish and I think it’s a very fitting final for what’s been a brilliant World Cup.
“It’s a World Cup final, there’s a huge amount of pressure, so much pressure on new batters coming in. We never let the run rate get away from us, even though we weren’t getting wickets, so we knew if we got a couple we’d be right in the game.
“It’s a dream and a dream you never think is going to come true.”
India captain Mithali Raj was proud of her side, when she said: “I’m proud. It wasn’t easy for England but credit to them for keeping their nerve.
“There was a time where the match was in the balance, but we panicked. I’m very proud of the girls. They didn’t make any match look easy for the other team.
“Jhulan is an experienced bowler and has always delivered when the team has needed her to. It could have been a match-winning performance, but I knew England have depth.
“All the youngsters tried their best, I’m sure this experience will help them. Now, people back home will have a different perspective about women’s cricket.”
Defending 229 runs to maintain its unblemished world cup home record, England started perfectly as a beauty from Shrubsole bowled Smriti Mandhana. This brought Mithali Raj to the crease who was run-out at the score of 43.
Raut was then joined by the star of India’s semi-final win Harmanpreet Kaur as the two batters slowly but surely started to repair the innings. The two batters played good shots all around the park and also ran well between the innings to take the score to 138 in the 34th over before Alex Hartley ended the 95-run partnership by dismissing Kaur. The No.4 batter struck three fours and two sixes in an 80-ball innings.
Tensions reached breaking point at Lord’s as India required 56 runs from 60 balls with seven wickets intact. When Shrubsole returned to trap Raut lbw for 86 the balance once again altered. Raut’s 115-ball innings included four fours and a six.
One became two as Hartley bowled Sushma Verma, before Shrubsole tore up the script with two wickets in the space of three balls – leaving India with 28 to win and three wickets in hand.
More brilliance from Sarah Taylor almost had Deepti Sharma out stumped, but then Shikha Pandey was run-out by Shrubsole, as 11 runs was needed from 14 balls with eight wickets down.
In the very next over, Shrubsole secured her five-wicket haul as Sharma was caught by Natalie Sciver. Although Jenny Gunn put down a match-winning catch, it mattered little as Rajeshwari Gayakwad on the very next delivery was bowled for a duck.
Earlier in the day, Heather Knight won the toss and elected to bat. Tournament top run-scorer Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield got England off to a solid start when batting, but with Goswami conceding just nine runs from her first five overs, India kept the host reined in.
The pressure resulted in a wicket as Winfield was bowled around her legs by Gayakwad, while just two overs later Beaumont slapped a Poonam Yadav full toss straight to midwicket.
Yadav struck again moments later to have Heather Knight lbw on review for just 1, and at 63 for three, Taylor and Sciver found themselves with a rebuilding job, putting on 83 in 16 overs.
But from there Goswami stole the show. First she had Taylor caught down the legside for 45, and with the next ball trapping Fran Wilson lbw for a golden duck, the game turned at 146-5.
Sciver reached her 50 from 66 balls with five boundaries, only to become Goswami’s 36th world cup wicket – the joint-third highest for the women’s ODI leading wicket-taker.
Katherine Brunt recovered alongside Jenny Gunn, though the former fell to a pinpoint throw from Deepti Sharma for 34, only for Gunn and Laura Marsh to rally England to 228 for eight – the second highest score in an ICC Women’s World Cup final.
Scores in brief
England beat India by nine runs, at Lord’s
England 228-8 in 50 overs (Natalie Sciver 51, Sarah Taylor 45, Katherine Brunt 34; Jhulan Goswami 3-23, Poonam Yadav 2-36, Rajeshwari Gayakwad 1-49)
India 219 in 48.4 overs (Poonam Raut 86, Harmanpreet Kaur 51, Veda Krishnumurthy 35; Anya Shrubsole 6-46, Alex Hartley 2-58)
Player of the final – Anya Shrubsole (England)
Player of the tournament – Tamsin Beaumont (England)