India level T20 series against England despite half-century from Freya Kemp

·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

An unbeaten half-century from 17-year-old all-rounder Freya Kemp was not enough for England as India levelled their T20 series 1-1 with a confident eight-wicket victory at Derby.

Kemp, who had previously faced just four balls and scored a single run in international cricket, hit 51 not out from number seven as she became the second youngest English woman to make fifty for her country.

A score of 142 for six represented a decent recovery after an evening to forget for the top order, but India made light work of the chase as Smriti Mandhana reeled off a wonderful 79 not out from 53 deliveries.

Mandhana, who represented Southern Brave in The Hundred, struck 13 fours including the match-winning runs that ended things with 20 balls unused. A decider awaits in Bristol on Thursday.

England had cruised to victory in Saturday’s opener, needing just three batters to chalk off their target of 133.

This time things could hardly have been more different, with the top-order trio of Sophia Dunkley, Danni Wyatt and Alice Capsey all gone inside the first three overs. Deepti Sharma had Dunkley stumped, Wyatt was well caught at slip off Renuka Singh and Capsey allowed the pressure to tell as she was carelessly run out.

At 16 for three, Bryony Smith and captain Amy Jones began the rebuild, digging out a stand of 32 before both fell to Sneh Rana. Smith failed to make the most of a drop for four, picking out the safer hands of Radha Yadav off the very next ball, before Jones was bowled reverse sweeping.

At 54 for five another rebuilding phase was required and this one took off in style as Maia Bouchier hit her third ball for four and Kemp did the same with her second.

Both players were full of intent as they put on 65, Kemp putting the pressure back on India by clearing the ropes in consecutive overs, pumping one clean over long-on and hoisting the next into the leg-side.

Kemp was close to being stumped on 27, just dragging her foot back in time, but Bouchier (34) had no such luck as Richa Ghosh caught her short in the 18th over. Kemp saw things through, timing her charge perfectly as she passed 50 with a six and a four off Yadav to close the innings.

India wasted no time ripping chunks off their target, Mandhana and Shefali Verma making full use of the field restrictions as they heaved 49 off the first five overs. Kemp was quickly brought down to earth after her success with the bat, leaking 19 from a ragged solitary over.

There were 11 boundaries in a dominant powerplay, Mandhana responsible for seven of them as she scored with complete freedom.

Jones sent up an SOS for world number one Sophie Ecclestone, who took out Verma (20) with a sharp caught and bowled with the last ball of the powerplay, and Freya Davies knocked back Dayalan Hamalatha’s off stump in the ninth over but England never got the run rate back under control.

Sarah Glenn and Ecclestone could not apply the squeeze through the middle overs, with Mandhana hammering the ball to all parts and Harmanpreet Kaur offering clean-hitting support with 29no.