India swept to an eight-wicket victory in the second T20 at Derby, levelling the series with one match left to play after chasing down their 143-run target inside 17 overs.
England had fought back from 54 for five in the 10th over to post a total of 142 for six thanks to a brilliant half-century from the 17-year-old Freya Kemp, who became the youngest woman to reach the landmark in T20 internationals. But India severely punished the bowling of the left-armer, with Shafali Verma (20 off 17) and Smriti Mandhana smashing 19 runs off her one over, en route to an opening stand of 55 from 35 balls.
Verma fell caught and bowled by Sophie Ecclestone at the end of the powerplay, but Mandhana powered on to a 36-ball half-century. Alongside her, Harmanpreet Kaur – put down by Danni Wyatt at deep midwicket on 20 – sailed along to 29no from 22 balls as India romped home.
Since Kemp made her England debut against South Africa in July, ostensibly for her seam bowling, she has been itching to showcase her skills with the bat; but in the late middle order, opportunities to do so have been thin on the ground.
But on Tuesday she shared in a 65-run partnership in eight overs with Maia Bouchier (34 off 26), and smashed three sixes down the ground en route to her fifty.
“She’s a cool character, nothing really fazes her,” Ecclestone said. “We all know what she can do with the bat – it was just a case of giving her a chance and throwing her up there, and she’s gone out and proved herself tonight.”
England had found themselves three down in three overs – setting up their worst powerplay since March 2021. Sophia Dunkley was stumped off Deepti Sharma in the second over, while six balls later, Renuka Singh Thakur got just enough away movement to tempt Wyatt into nicking one to slip.
Harmanpreet had partly blamed India’s defeat in the opening T20 on an injury to Radha Yadav, who was unable to bowl after hurting her shoulder in the field. But Yadav did not seem overly affected. Her diving stop at deep extra cover in the third over not only prevented an Alice Capsey boundary, but left the batter run out, after Yadav swiftly relayed the ball back to Harmanpreet on the ring.
In the eighth over, Yadav sprinted round from long-on to take a spectacular diving catch, sending Bryony Smith back to the dugout and handing Sneh Rana the first of three wickets. Despite Kemp’s heroics, England never quite recovered.