A host of problems for holders

Like humbled bullies who'd just had a fast one pulled on them for a change, they stumbled off the field, disbelief etched on their faces. All around them, the little Islanders danced and celebrated with unbridled joy as if there was no tomorrow. While the Sri Lankans were understandably agog with the miraculous upset that they had just engineered, not many of the Englishwomen could get themselves to flash the customary smile as they congratulated their vanquishers.

Except Charlotte Edwards, that is. The affable England skipper to her credit somehow seemed to suppress her bitter disappointment and sported a grin, even if only a wry and vain one. The defending champions had after all just suffered a rather epic reversal. The superpower had been downed by the most unfancied of underdogs. And what's worse, England had hardly looked the stronger side at any point on Friday at the Brabourne Stadium. If their bowling was below par, so abject was their performance on the field that their reputation of being the best fielding unit might require a rethink.

And they are unlikely to carry the favourites tag as they go into their clash against hosts India at the CCI on Sunday. Especially, since Mithali Raj & Co have their tails up following a rampant show against the West Indies on Thursday.

One-woman army?

The most worrying factor for England to come out of their tournament opener though would have been the reiteration of the fact that their batting no longer remains as steadfast and dominant as before. More than ever before, they are over-dependent on their inspirational skipper to deliver the goods.

The signs were ominous in the build-up to their debacle against Sri Lanka itself. Against New Zealand in the practice match for example, the middle-order caved in with little resistance, save a half-century to Lydia Greenway, after Edwards went cheaply. Just like on Friday, where it took a rear-guard effort from Jenny Gunn and Amy Jones down the order to save England the blushes. The only match they have won on tour so far was when Edwards led the way with 78 against South Africa in their first warm-up.

... contd.

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