HomeFeatureIndia Speedsters Pooja Vastrakar and Renuka Singh Thakur Sneak Past the England,...

India Speedsters Pooja Vastrakar and Renuka Singh Thakur Sneak Past the England, Australian Defense

In the space of 7 days, Team India which rarely plays test matches unlike Australia or England, where Test Match constitutes an important part of the multi-format series, bundled the England side for less than 150 twice in a test match and restricted Australia to 219 on the first day of the Test Match.

In both the pitches, surfaced neither provided vivacious turns nor provided enough assistance for the seam bowlers barring the first sessions of the day. The Wankhere Satedium was not as easy for the bowlers as it was in DY Patil.

Despite the fact, that Deepti Sharma picked up 9 wickets against England and Sneh Rana played an instrumental role in constraining the run from one end besides picking up the wickets, it was the Indian seam bowling attack that drew the first blood. In all three innings, they got rid of the top order which mounted immense pressure on the middle order while either chasing the total or building the momentum.

Against England in DY Patil, the surface that suited the batters on day one, the Indian seam bowling attack spearheaded by debutant Renuka Singh Thakur and Pooja Vastrakar created problems for the English batters in both innings. In the first innings, Renuka Singh with her inswingers tested the batters, and as she did in the T20I’s, Sophia Dunkley was the first wicket to fall, and a spitting inswinger sneaked through the gap between the bat and pad to provide the early breakthrough.

Pooja who instead of the new ball was given a bit older ball, struck in her first over too, when another incoming delivery saw the fall of England skipper Heather Knight, right after sending a half-volley to the extra-cover boundary. Even in the 2nd innings, though the England batters looked positive and solid in defence in the first couple of overs, the first breach in the fortress was done by the Renuka.

She kept bringing in the balls to Tammy Beaumont who scored a double-century in the last test against Australia and then the last ball of the 7th over just held her line and went past the bat by a wisher to nudge the off stump. The first wicket fell on 27. In both the innings, skipper Harmanpreet Kaur started with Renuka Singh and brought in Sneh Rana from the other end. Pooja was given the charge to lead with a slightly older ball which might helped her to have greater control.

Once Pooja Vastrakar was bought into the attack in the 2nd innings, she removed Dunkley immediately. Out of her three wickets, it was the most harmless ball, way outside of off Stump which Dunkley cut straight to the point. Harleen Deol, one of the best fielders on the Indian side, made no mistake. Nat Sciver Brunt has been the saviour of the English side for many winters now in has reduced her side from the muddle.

She also had a half-century under her name, before getting out to Sneh Rana with a peach of a delivery that came in sharply from outside off. One needed such kind of delivery to get rid of her. And this time Pooja produced that. The very first ball she faced, length ball outside off, she moved her front foot a few inches forward to defend but left a gap between bat and pad, and the ball nipped in through that gap to knock the stumps back.

A couple of overs back, she took the wicket of England skipper Heather Knight for the 2nd time in the test match. If inswinger troubled Knight, this time the delivery held its line to kiss a nick and submit itself to the gloves of Yastika Bhatia. England was reduced to 68/4 and later handed a 347-run defeat.

Indian bowling coach, Troy Cooley even after the match praised the Indian seam blowers for their work ethics. He even mentioned the performance that Pooja Vastrakar showed despite having an injury in his knee. He mentioned how Vastrakar used the angles to the right-hand batters while having much more variety in her arsenal. Vastrakar who liked to hit the deck, showed that she had prominence in bringing the ball back to the righthanders and that provided the dividend against England.

At the Wankhede Stadium, after Australia decided to bat first, India opted with the pacer to operate in tandem to make use of the first hour. After Australia lost Phoebe Litchfield due to a miscommunication, Pooja Vastrakar was into the attack in the 2nd over. Perry got the first ball four as the edge flew through the slips, but Pooja gave the start India needed in the next ball.

Similar to the ball that got Nat Sciver Brunt in the 2nd innings against England, the length ball jagged back sharply into Perry, found a huge gap between bat and pad and the ball makes its way through to castle off and middle stump.

Perry was out for 4, her lowest test score before getting out, in the last 6 years. Even after the wicket of Perry, the Indian bowlers got swayed away while Mooney and McGrath punished the Indian bowlers fir being too wide and full and runs came in a hurry. The Australian duo took the score to 56 after the end of 11 overs, despite losing two wickets.

As Rana contained the run from one end with her miserly bowling, Pooja Vastrakar in the first over of her 2nd spell, removed ever-consistent both Mooney with a short pitch one that surprised the batter, on the last ball of the first session. Mooney who was batting on 40 by then and survived a few close decisions, went to cut a ball from her but due to the bounce, she could only get her glove on it. Rana at first slip completed the formalities. while she conceded too many boundaries for either going wide or short in her first spell, she rectified and bowled continuously with the stump line.

Her persistence with the inswingers to the right-handers paid off when Sutherland, who scored an unbeaten 137 against England in her last test, became another Victim of the LBW. The ball came in and she went backfoot to defend the ball but missed. It was a plumb. A couple of overs later, Vastrakar bowled a length ball outside off, the seam wobbled in the air, Gardner looked to push this towards the offside and got a thick outside edge to the keeper, who leaned to her right to collect the ball. Vastrakar picked up her 4th wicket for 53 runs and the best figure in her career as Australia was reduced to 160/7.

Vastrakar even mentioned after the end of day one how she made adjustments to get success from her 2nd spell after she went for flurries of runs in her first spell. Even in the morning of the 4th day, when Australia looked to consolidate their lead from the previous day, Ash Gardner was trapped in front, which broke the backbone of Australian resistance and they lost 5 for 28.

In a pitch where seasoned Australian seamers like Perry went for plenty, later in the day, the performances that Indian bowlers put forward gave them the upper hand. In the first innings while Indian seamers went for 88 runs in 23 overs, out of the 127 overs that Australian seamers bowled fast bowlers conceded 175 runs in 48.3 overs.

Even in the test against England while England’s fast bowlers went for plenty, 240 runs in 59 overs for 5 wickets in the first innings, Indian seamers on the other hand 2/71 in 18 overs in the 1st innings and 4/53 in 12 overs picked wickets in wickets in regular interval.

Indian bowling coach was speaking about the bowling partnership which was reflected in all three innings. After the initial success when the Indian fast bowlers turned out to be costly like the 1st innings against Australia Sneh Rana contained the run from one end which in return in some way helped Deepti Sharma or Pooja Vastrakar to pick wickets. As the wicket was not the easy one to bowl, Pooja Vastrakar mentioned after Day 1  how they persisted with wicket-to-wicket bowling and setting up a batter for a ball that was coming into them.

Not only in these two test matches but in the day-night test match against Australia in 2021, Indian seamers exceeded expectations. After Indian batters scored 377 against a fearsome Australian attack, consisting of Perry-Brown-Sutherland and Campbell, Jhulan, Meghna and Pooja picked up 7 wickets combined to restrict Australia to 241/9.

In a time when after the retirement of stalwarts like Jhulan Goswami, and Sikha Pandey not finding their spot in the Indian set-up despite performances there have been talks about the future of Indian fast bowling attacks, these performances in the longer format, ignite hope.

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