An inspired India won the inaugural Women’s Under-19 World Cup by beating England in a one-sided final in South Africa.
Faced with high quality bowling and an outstanding onfield performance, England struggled on the big occasion and were knocked out for just 68.
Liberty Heap fell for a duck in the first round before captain and key hitter Grace Scrivens became second of two wickets in the fourth round.
From 16-3, India continued to take regular wickets, including a one-handed dive from Archana Devi and a direct hit from Soumya Tiwari.
England had progressed impressively to the final but were outclassed by an Indian side which included two full internationals, including captain Shafali Verma.
The superstar fly-half was caught for 15 in the third over of the chase as India slipped to 20-2 but his side still claimed victory with seven wickets and six overs to spare.
When the finals took place, Indian players stormed onto the pitch in celebration – it was the cricketing superpower’s first victory in a Women’s World Cup.
“We are disgusted with how this turned out,” Scrivens said.
“Our hitter let us down tremendously. We were so good at bowling and we just couldn’t do it today.”
India proves too good for England
Unfortunately for England, their worst performance in a tournament where they were unbeaten came in the final. India, on the other hand, was superb.
They made a number of diving saves to apply pressure early on after dressmaker Titas Sadhu, who went 2-6 on four overs, caught Heap and pitched with the fourth ball innings.
The highlight of that athletic effort on the pitch was Devi’s catch – who also got Scrivens caught long-range with her off-turn – to dismiss Ryana MacDonald-Gay – the only England striker to threaten with 19.
Devi rushed to her right for extra cover before picking the ball up inches off the ground and Tiwari then hit with a throw from cover to take out Josie Groves.
When Richa Ghosh, a wicketkeeper who has played 47 times for India’s senior side, produced a clever stumping to fire Hannah Baker, there was a feeling her team could do no wrong.
England needed everything to fight their way through in pursuit of India, but lost two catches in the first five overs. Even the winning runs hit by Tiwari, who finished 24 paces, came with poor ground.
While the performance was disappointing from England, the result and the tournament as a whole – the first of its kind in women’s football – is generating real excitement for the future of the sport.
The inaugural Women’s Premier League auction is set to take place next month – a tournament that is set to change the landscape of women’s football – and some of these Indian players could be signed for significant sums.
The Board for Control of Cricket in India has also announced a £500,000 prize for the winning team while performances from the other 15 nations involved over the past two weeks, from Rwanda and Indonesia to England and to Australia, have shown that there is a bright future ahead.