It was the last day of the one-off Test Match between India and England in Wormsley. Team India captain Mithali Raj and her overnight partner Shikha Pandey were batting remarkably well on a lush green wicket as they needed 62 more runs to beat England for 2nd successive time. As Pandey guided the ball for four through cover, India achieved a remarkable victory. While the Indian men team faced humiliation against the England side, their female counterparts who are nonetheless ‘intruders in the sanctified territory of men’ won the Red Ball match and series by 1-0.
However, this Indian victory was not a fluke. They also won their previous Test series in England in 2006. It was the last test they played before they once again clinched victory in 2014 in England. In those 8 years (2006-20014) Indian Women played 0 test matches. And after the RSA series in India, Indian eves played 0 matches in these 4 years (2015-2018) till now. Out of the test matches, India has played so far, they have won 5 test matches – 2-2 against England and South Africa and one against West Indies.
Looking back at some of the great victories of Team India in Tests:
1. India vs West Indies – (17-19 November 1976), Patna
India – 161/9d & 55/5
West Indies – 127 & 88
India Won by 5 wickets
It was the 4th Test of the 6 match series against West Indies for India. Both the teams settled for the draw in the previous three encounters. West Indies captain Browne won the toss and decided to bat first. It’s because of the Indies’ middle order, West Indies team was able to cross the 100 marks, otherwise, it was the story of the spinners on a dry typical Indian surface. Whittaker (20), BM Browne (10) V Latty-Scott (22 ), Y Geddes-Hall ( 32 ) helped their team from any further humiliation. Among Indian bowlers, left-arm spinners Diana Edulji (3/24) and Sharmila Chakraborty (2/23) were supported by leggie Subhangi Kulkarni (3/43) and skipper Rangaswami (2/11) herself.
In reply Indian opener Fowzieh Khalili made a brilliant 58 and as she got the help from her skipper who made 32 India gained the lead of 34 runs before Rangaswami declared the innings. Kulkarni (4/14) and Sharmila Chakraborty (3/17) again became destructive in the 2nd innings and this time the spinners of India restricted the West Indian team to score 100 marks. Though Indian batters faltered in the chase unbeaten knock of 18 from Khalili and 20* from Edulji were enough for India to register their first win in the women test by 5 wickets.
2. India vs South Africa – (19-22 March 2002), Paarl
India – 404/9d & 13/0
South Africa- 150 & 266 (F/O)
India won by 10 wickets
Indian Captain Anjum Chopra won the toss and elected to bat first in the one-off test match against RSA. South African team made their first appearance in the Women Test cricket arena and eventually this match would turn out to be the last test match played by India under the supervision of WCAI. Indian openers Anju Jain (52) and debutant Jaya Sharma (24) put together 45 runs for the first wicket.
5 Indian batters completed their respective half-centuries which consist the names like Jain (52), Anjum (80), Raj (55), Hemlata Kala (64), and Mamata Maben (50). Alongside these individual signs of brilliance, partnerships were useful enough to gain a commendable score of 404. In reply, the South African team, playing a test match for the first time showed some kind of resistance as opener Barnard (31) and skipper Eksteen (25) put forward their valuable contribution in the total of 150 in the first innings. India used 5 bowlers among which Deepa Marathe bagged 3 for 14.
Chopra didn’t hesitate to invite the host to bat for the 2nd time in succession. RSA lost their captain in the form of the 4th wicket at the score of 89 and was on the verge of an innings defeat. But Hodgkinson (77) and Viljoen (71) denied any further loss of wicket and they added 73 and 69 for the 5th and 6th wicket respectively with the other batters. Their effort turned out to be fruitful as the South African team reached a total of 266 to gain the lead of 12 runs. Hemlata Kala (3/18) and Jhulan Goswami (3/63) were instrumental in their bowling effort. Indian side won the match by 10 wickets as the openers didn’t waste much time and accumulate the runs in just 1 .3 over.
3. India vs England – (29th August- 1st September 2006), Taunton
India- 307& 98/5
England- 99& 305 (f/o)
India won by 5 wickets
It was Indian Women’s first test match ever after BCCI took over the responsibility to look after the development of the Women’s Cricket in India after the instruction from ICC, which ultimately marked the end of the era of the independent Women Cricket Association.
Mithali Raj won the toss and asked the host to field first. Because of Raj’s 65 and Anjum Chopra’s magnificent 98, who missed her much-coveted century by a whisker, supported by Rumeli Dhar’s well made 43 India reached a total of 307. Among the English bowlers, there was one India-originated seamer, Isa Guha, who picked up 4 wickets to restrict the Indian innings. In reply, the Indian pace trio of Goswami (5/33)- Sharma (2/19)- Dhar (2/16) made life miserable for the English batters. Only four of them were able to reach the double-digit score, among them, the highest scorer was Charlotte Edwards who came at no 8 and made a valuable 25 to save her team from further humiliation. England was bundled out just for 99 in 51 over.
Following on opener Atkins made 68 but it’s the determination she projected on the field that mattered the most. She took 331 balls to reach her score. But the highlight of the innings was another brilliant knock from ‘Lotte’, who against all odds scored 105. With the support of the lower order, England reached a total of 305, which means India needed 98 runs to register their first-ever win against the ‘Three Lions’. Isa Guha found herself the leg before the victim of the bowling of Jhulan and, thus she became the 10th scalp for Jhulan in the match (49.2-25-78-10). Chasing 98 runs to win India, though lost opener Rumeli Dhar early, Kavita Jain (34), and Sulakshana Naik (21) played the role rebuilder of the innings. As Indians reached closer to the victory, the Indian middle-order collapsed. But Mithali Raj, with her broad shoulder, made responsible 22* to anchor to the inning.
4. India vs. England – (13-16 August 2014), Wormsley
England- 92 & 202
India- 114 & 183/4
India won by 6 wickets
A test that witnessed many records to galore was also the last Indian victory on foreign soil till now. With 8 debutants in the side, Indian skipper Mithali Raj won the toss. To give her ‘young’ team a chance to get acclimatize to the aura of ‘Red Ball Cricket’, she decided to field first. Her decision turns out to be fruitful as her seamers especially Niranjana made life horrible for the English batter in a pitch that was even for seamers. Only 3 batters managed to reach the double-digit and against any of the expectations the Indian side bundled England side in just 92 runs. Nagarajan Niranjana was the pick of the bowlers who picked up 4 wickets which included the wickets like Knight, Winfield, Edwards, and Greenway.
In reply debutant Smriti Mandhana (22) and Thirush Kamini (17) added 40 runs for the opening wicket but both of them fell to Gunn (5/19) as they were caught behind by Taylor. India lost 6 wickets in 24 runs before Jhulan(17) and Niranjana (27) added 31 runs to help the Indian team to get a handy lead of 22 runs. Though in their 2nd innings England at one stage were 84/6, Taylor (40) and Gunn (62) rescued England and safeguarded their nation to a total of 202, leaving India 181 runs to win to cling a memorable victory. Teenager Smriti Mandhana replicated her touch in the 4th innings as well and made a superb 51 in a pitch where most of the senior members from both teams faced difficulties making runs. On the final day, India needed 62 more runs and English bowlers have tested blood in the dying hours of the previous day as Kate Cross (3/42) took the role of destructor.
So overnight batters Mithali Raj and Shikha Pandey started cautiously, Mithali Raj completed her half-century with a boundary, and in the very next over after playing two dots of the bowling off all-rounder Natalia Sciver, Sikha Pandey sent the ball through the cover to complete a convincing victory. The partnership of 65 off 207 between them turned out to be very crucial in the context of the game. Despite the defeat, Jenny Gunn became the Player of the Match for her superb display with ball and bat. And this win created a euphoria in India, many ‘cricket fans and supporter’ who even was unaware of the ‘existence of a women team’ till that time, projected the victory of the Women team as a ‘mean to bash the Men team’ who faced severe humiliation in the test series.
5. India vs South Africa – (16-19 November 2014), Mysore.
India – 400/6d
South Africa – 234 & 132 (f/o)
India won by innings and 34 runs.
After a convincing win over the British Eves in their backyard, India faced South Africa in Mysore, which eventually turned out to be the last test played by both teams to date. The test witnessed 11 debutants including 8 from the touring side. Mithali Raj won the toss and decided to bat first on a pitch that suited the batter. Mandhana (8) who made her debut in the previous test and showed her class, got out cheaply to Tryon, but two seasoned campaigners for India, Kamini (192) and Raut (130) took command of the game. Both of them completed their respective centuries in their 2nd test match.
Though Kamini fell short 51 runs to break Karen Baluch’s record of highest individual score in a test match, it is Raut and her partnership that turns the match in favour of India. Dou’s partnership of 275 (2nd highest partnership in Women Test) runs led India to a total of 400/6. The lower order hiccups prompted the captain to call of their innings. In return despite valiant 102 from Captain Du Prezz and Chetty’s 5 6 the team Green and Gold managed to score only 234. RSA lost their last 6 wickets in just 25 runs in 12.2 over, while none of the batter able to reach the double-digit. Harmanpreet, who failed with the bat, played an instrumental role to destroy RSA’s lower middle order. To do so, she claimed her carrier best figure of (5/44) and she was supported by debutant left-arm spinner Gawakwad (4/54).
Following on South African batting collapsed again against the spin trio of Kaur (4/41) – Gawakwad (1/26) – Poonam Yadav (2/22). It was Trisha Chetty (35) and Chloe Tryon (30)* who saved their team from more humiliation. As Letsoalo (0) became Kaur’s 9th victim in two innings (41.2-15-85-9) it called the curtain of the match which Team India won by an innings and 34 runs, India’s highest winning margin till now.