England triumph in World Cup Final
England triumph in World Cup Final

Kent players Tamsin Beaumont and Laura Marsh are celebrating World Cup success after England beat India in the Final at Lord’s.

Anya Shrubsole’s name will be added to the honours board at Lord’s after her six-wicket haul dragged England back from the brink to win an amazing World Cup final. In a match full of twists and turns, England defended 229 and their determination was personified by their opening bowler as she took six for 46 from 9.4 overs.

England had won the toss under heavy cloud but, perhaps seeking to avoid the nerves of a run-chase, Heather Knight chose to bat first. It would be a decision that reaped dividends, but not without a few frights along the way.

Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield made the most of a pacy Lord’s wicket with a 47-run opening partnership that went at a run a ball off before the Indian spinners took control. Rajeshwari Gayakwad bowled Winfield around her legs in the 12th over, and Beaumont hit a Punam Yadav full-toss up in the air to go soon after. Yadav then trapped Heather Knight lbw to make it 63 for three, before Sarah Taylor and Natalie Sciver put together the best partnership of the innings.

Sciver set the tone and Taylor matched her run for run as they rotated the strike brilliantly to add 83 runs in 16.3 overs even as boundaries were hard to come by. When it came, Taylor’s dismissal, for 45, was as unusual as it was unexpected. She tickled a Jhulan Goswami delivery down the legside, but smart footwork saw Sushma Verma there waiting for the catch.

Goswami had bowled a miserly opening spell and she wrecked England’s recovery, getting Fran Wilson first ball and then taking the vital wicket of Natalie Sciver before finishing with three for 23 from ten overs. Sciver had scored 51 in authoritative fashion and looked key to England’s goal of reaching a par score near 260.

Katherine Brunt added 32 with Jenny Gunn before she was run out for 34 by a brilliant direct hit from Deepti Sharma, and the innings finished on 228 for 8 thanks to a 23-run partnership from Gunn and Laura Marsh.

Everyone at Lord’s knew England could win, but also knew they were thirty runs short of a good target. Having felt the pressure of a run-chase themselves in their narrow semi-final win over South Africa, England’s women had been given a fresh reminder of the psychology of that task.

Smrti Mandhana was an early loss, leaving a big gap between bat and pad to be bowled by Anya Shrubsole, and when Mithali Raj joined Punam Raut at the wicket things immediately started to look more difficult for England. With a low total to defend, they had to work hard to build up the run-rate, and Raut’s ability to strike the ball eased pressure when it was building up. It was a huge bonus for the hosts when Raut ran out her captain, trying a crazy run to Sciver at midwicket.

At 43 for two, the game was in the balance, but there followed a brilliant partnership between Raut and Harmanpreet Kaur, fresh from her 171* against Australia in the semi-final. It was hardly textbook chasing, made up of blocks and boundaries, but it was mightily effective. Sunshine finally arrived in NW8, and Knight mixed up her bowlers looking for a breakthrough that seemed less and less likely.

England persisted, though, and Harmanpreet had just passed fifty when she tried to sweep Hartley for six over midwicket (a trick she’d already pulled off twice). Tammy Beaumont was waiting at deep square leg this time and Harmanpreet was gone for 51.

Veda Krishnamurthy came in and played purposefully from her first ball and Raut’s main problem looked to be, not the England bowlers, but a touch of cramp. India needed 38 to win from 43 balls when the fourth wicket fell, Raut lbw to Shrubsole for 86. This was still India’s to win, but it opened a crack for Shrubsole to smash through the middle order and send shockwaves through the Indian camp.

The atmosphere was absolutely electric as Alex Hartley bowled Sushma Verma second ball and Shrubsole set about turning the game around. Having removed Raut with the fifth ball of the 43rd over she rushed one on Krishnamurthy (35 from 34 balls) to have her caught at midwicket by Natalie Sciver, and bowled Jhulan Goswami with a brilliant piece of death-bowling. Shrubsole’s spell reaped three wickets, for just three runs, in eight balls; India were seven down.

Now the cat was among the pigeons but, with just 28 runs to spare, the tension became unbearable. England fans cheered dots, while a healthy Indian contingent cheered every run with gusto.

Deepti Sharma and Shikha Pandey put on 17 for the eighth wicket but, just when it looked like the Indians would get over the line, a mix-up saw Sharma refuse Pandey a single and a brilliant dive, pick-up, and throw saw Pandey out by a yard. Guess who? Shrubsole, again.

Sharma nearly ran out Yadav off the last ball of the 47th over but, having deliberately retained the strike from her colleague, could only loop a simple catch to mid-off; Sciver was again under it, and it was the wicket that ensured Anya Shrubsole’s name would go onto the honours board at Lord’s, sixteen years after she was pictured watching her father play here in a club match.

India were nine down needing eleven to win, and England were favourites for the first time since halfway through their own innings. When Yadav lobbed the ball to Jenny Gunn at mid-off, it was all over… but Gunn fumbled a simple low catch and the silence was deafening.

That surreal moment was mercifully short-lived, though, as Anya Shrubsole cleaned up Rajeshwari Gayakwad with the next ball. The celebrations were rapturous, the relief palpable, a sublime blend of catharsis and joy.

England have won every game they’ve played since the opening day of the tournament, and they’ve done it in a variety of ways. Their group wins were achieved largely thanks to dominant batting performances, with contributions from every member of the order. They’ve fielded well, despite the occasional dropped catch, and the wickets have been shared around as well.

But, and this is especially true of the knockout wins against South Africa at Bristol and at Lord’s today, they’ve also done it through qualities of personality; team spirit, a co-operative attitude, and guts. One player summed that up today.

Anya Shrubsole opened this World Cup campaign looking out of sorts, bowling a wayward spell against India at Derby in a stop-start performance that saw an England chase stumble to defeat. A month later, they have turned the tables on that same opponent having beaten every other team in the tournament, and it was Anya Shrubsole’s display of grit, determination, skill, and rhythm that saw them home. If anyone deserves to have their name on the honours board, it’s her. Her dad agrees.