Heather Knight was among the players to joke she has not got any fingernails left after England chased a moderate India total the hard way in the ICC Women’s World Twenty20.
Charlotte Edwards’ side were cruising at 42 for one with Tammy Beaumont and Sarah Taylor at the crease. But England then collapsed to 87 for eight before specialist bowlers Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole nervily saw them over the line with a two wickets and an over to spare.
The collapse was difficult to watch for England’s players, coaches, support staff and fans, with Taylor later tweeting that she took had bitten her nails to the quick.
But it was Knight who spoke to ecb.co.uk, initially saying: “I haven’t got any fingernails left. (It was) a bit of a nervy finish but, look, we got over the line. That’s the main thing.”
I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t have any nails left…
— Sarah Taylor (@Sarah_Taylor30) March 22, 2016
On the morning of the game in Dharamsala, England were dealt a big blow with Danielle Hazell ruled out of the tournament by a muscle strain sustained in training.
It meant Knight, who sent down just two overs as England’s sixth-choice bowler in the opening defeat of Bangladesh, was asked to open the bowling with her off-spin.
She rose to the task, returning 3-15 in an excellent team bowling display that saw Shrubsole take 2-12 from four overs as India were restricted to 90 for eight.
Knight reflected: “It’s a little bit different with the new ball, obviously in the powerplay as well.
“But I think Anya Shrubsole bowled particularly well up front. She was outstanding with the ball. She hardly bowled a ball in a bad area. She was really good with our plans and absolutely nailed them.
“I think we did really well to restrict them to 90-odd and obviously beating India in India is a massive plus as well, and good to get the win into the next game.”
England’s early fielding was inconsistent, with two regulation chances grassed, but Brunt held a stunner in the deep to show the way.
“Fielding has been one of the things that we’ve looked to improve on recently and those dropped catches in a close game like that aren’t ideal,” Knight added.
“We’ll look to improve on that in the next game and obviously (there was) a little bit of a wobble which made it interesting with the bat as well.”
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) March 22, 2016
Victory over West Indies at the same venue on Thursday will see England reach the semi-finals with a match to spare.
Unfortunately they will be without Hazell for that contest, and against Pakistan in Chennai on Sunday plus any knockout fixtures to follow. Laura Marsh has been called up as cover.
Knight said: “I think Dan would have been really effective on that pitch. Going into the game I really wanted to step up and fill her shoes as well.
“It’s a massive loss for us. Danni’s been outstanding in T20 cricket and I feel really bad for her that she’s missing out.
“But we’ve got loads of stock coming in and Becky Grundy came in and bowled really well today I thought. We’ll miss her but move on and go with what we’ve got.”