Recent Match Report – India (W) vs England (W) Only Test 2023/24

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India 410 for 7 (Shubha 69, Rodrigues 68, Bhatia 66, Deepti 60*, Bell 2-64) vs England

Impressive debuts from two young players at opposite ends of the experience spectrum led India to an imposing first-innings total on the opening day of their Test against England.

Satheesh Shubha, representing her country for the first time, and Jemimah Rodrigues, playing her maiden Test after 113 white-ball appearances for India, both scored half-centuries on an accommodating pitch in Navi Mumbai as India posted 410 for 7, the second-highest total by a team on the opening day of a women’s Test behind England’s 431 for 4 against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1935, having bowled their opponents out for 44.

By midway through the first evening session of this four-day fixture, the hosts’ run rate hadn’t dipped below 4.5 per over. Yastika Bhatia and Deepti Sharma, with three Test caps between them heading into the match, also racked up fifties and each played roles in key partnerships – Bhatia with Harmanpreet Kaur, who fell agonisingly short of her half-century in a strange yet familiar run out, and Deepti with Sneh Rana.

Shubha’s selection was a surprise. She hardly played for Railways this season amid a lack of opportunities after moving from Karnataka, but was picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore in the WPL. And the 24-year-old left-hander gave more than a glimpse of what her franchise can expect as she eased to 69 off 76 balls, coming in at No. 3 with her side 25 for 1 after they chose to bat.

Smriti Mandhana, dropped on 5 by Tammy Beaumont running back from short leg to catch a top edge that ballooned straight up in the second over, managed just 17 before she chopped onto her stumps off Lauren Bell. Kate Cross then sent Shafali Verma’s off stump cartwheeling with a delivery that moved away just enough to beat the bat, leaving India 47 for 2.

But then Shubha and Rodrigues settled into a 115-run partnership that not only steadied the innings but kept the home side scoring at an impressive rate, the 23-year-old Rodrigues finding the gaps seemingly at will as Shubha looked right at home. When the latter cut Cross through backward point with ease, using the pace of the ball for one of her 13 fours, a half-century was just one more stroke away. She produced that three balls later, driving so sweetly down the ground it looked like she had been doing this forever.

Heather Knight couldn’t cling onto a sharp chance to her right at slip that would have given Sophie Ecclestone her first wicket of the match when Shubha was on 51. That was the last ball before lunch and the India duo picked up where they left off after the break until Ecclestone broke through to remove Shubha, who picked out Nat Sciver-Brunt at short midwicket.

Rodrigues forged ahead, bringing up her fifty with the first of two fours in three balls, a beautiful off-drive off Bell. Back-to-back boundaries off Ecclestone followed next over for Rodrigues, driven through the covers and swept fine, but she eventually fell to Bell in a moment of indecision that left her neither playing forward nor back and bowled between bat and pad.

Bell put down a sitter to let off Bhatia on 15, her top edge off Charlie Dean looping up but going through Bell’s hands as she ran in from mid-on. Bhatia and Harmanpreet’s union for the fifth wicket was unbroken on 71 at tea, India having scored 125 runs in the afternoon session.

They bettered Shubha and Rodrigues’ stand by one off the same number of balls (146) before Harmanpreet was run out right when she should have had an overthrow to bring up her half-century. Having pushed the ball towards covers, she set off but had to turn back. As Danni Wyatt hit the stumps direct with an underarm throw, Harmanpreet’s bat got stuck in the pitch just short of her crease. The dismissal went from the realms of bizarre to ignominious given that she had been run out in a similar way in India’s T20 World Cup semi-final loss to Australia in February.

Bhatia produced some wonderful drives and rammed home her authority on the innings with the first six of the match, pulling Lauren Filer over deep-backward square leg to bring up her fifty. But Bell made up for her earlier mistake when she held a catch at mid-on to give Dean the wicket she should have had earlier and send Bhatia on her way.

Rana was off the mark immediately, turning Dean through fine leg for four on the next ball and she settled into a 92-run partnership with Deepti, who produced nine fours and an emphatic six off Ecclestone over wide long-on. England’s bowlers lacked penetration and their tiring fielders were left to rue those missed chances. Then Deepti brought up her third fifty from as many Test matches with a four off Bell through square leg late in the day.

That was before Sciver-Brunt ripped out Rana’s leg stump, and Pooja Vastrakar negotiated a tense final over from Ecclestone as the opening day of the first women’s Test hosted by India since 2014 and England’s first on these shores since 2005 ended up very much in the home side’s favour.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women’s cricket, at ESPNcricinfo

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