With two days remaining, India is well-positioned to win their first Test match in nine years after thrashing England for 136 runs and then adding more to finish 478 runs ahead. England fell from 108 for three to 136 all out in 5.3 overs thanks to off-spinner Deepti Sharma, who took just 33 balls to record an incredible Test fifer. She dismissed four maidens and gave up just seven runs in her 5.3 overs.
Harmanpreet Kaur, the captain of India, chose not to force a follow-on, and as a result, England ended up reducing India to 186 for six. Charlie Dean, a 22-year-old off-spinner, impressed with figures of four for 68 in just her second Test match. But with Harmanpreet at 44 and undefeated overnight, the hosts can be sure that winning is a matter of when rather than if.
After choosing an extra seamer over Alice Capsey’s all-around off-spinning option, Knight and coach Jon Lewis watched with stony faces as Deepti took full use of the bend in the pitch, landing the ball far away off stump and rotating it into the right-handers to wrap up off the English tail.
After Sciver-Brunt made a half-century earlier, Sneh Rana spun the ball more effectively than Deepti, smashing the 31-year-old’s bat and sending her rattling off stump, ending England’s chances of a miraculous comeback.
India’s excellent fielding backed up the spinners’ efforts. Jemimah Rodrigues held onto a ball at short leg to dismiss Danni Wyatt, while Shafali Verma grabbed a catch at leg slip that bounced off Smriti Mandhana’s helmet and ended up being the unfortunate Amy Jones.
With just 10 runs to her credit, Pooja Vastrakar made possibly the most significant intervention when she ran out Ashes double-centurion Tammy Beaumont by a yard with a direct hit from midwicket.
The T20 phase of the tour saw Sophia Dunkley dismissed three times in as many matches by Renuka, so there was excitement too when Renuka Singh Thakur claimed her maiden Test wicket and additional bragging rights over her. Sophia was bowled all round by Renuka’s inswinger.
It appears increasingly likely that Knight and Lewis decided to push her up the order after England’s current opener Emma Lamb had a back injury that rendered her out of the running.
With the loss of their last three wickets, England finished out India’s first innings with efficiency to start the day strongly. The hosts only added 18 runs to their overnight total.
During her four-over performance, Lauren Bell hit a beautiful spot and got compensated with the wicket of Deepti, who attempted to block the swinging ball and directed an edge to Sophie Ecclestone at first slip.
Ecclestone dismissed Renuka Singh with the very next ball, spinning one sharply to strike her off stump after Beaumont botched an effortless chance at the silly point. Gayakwad then caught the next over to end the innings.
But in the women’s Tests, India had already achieved their highest-ever total. As the pressure mounted, England’s predicament became even more dire when Heather Knight blasted Shafali Verma at first slip on zero. The Indian openers added 50 fast runs in the first 11 overs thanks to a poor miss, which further distanced England from victory.
India vs England One-off Test: Brief Scores
India 428 (Shubha Satheesh 69, Jemima Rodrigues 68, Yastika Bhatia 66, Deepti Sharma 67; Lauren Bell 3-67, Sophie Eccleston 3-91) & 186/6 (Harmanpreet Kaur 44*; Charlie Dean 4-68) lead England 136 all out (Nat Sciver-Brunt 59, Deepti Sharma 5-7) by 478 runs.