Team India will be motivated by its success in England and its “positive mindset” despite insufficient preparation time when it plays its first Test match against England on Wednesday. This is the squad’s first meeting in nearly seven years.
The Mithali Raj-led team had little over a week to get ready for its first red-ball match since November 2014 after going through several quarantines in both India and the UK. at that winning eleven versus South Africa at Mysuru, Mithali was one of the seven active players.
Even though the captain, her deputy Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, and Jhulan Goswami haven’t played red-ball cricket in a while, the younger players who don’t get to play first-class cricket in domestic cricket will face an even harder test.
The women’s team only practised in the nets, which could damage them in the four-day match, in contrast to the men’s team, which participated in intra-squad games in Southampton before to the WTC final.
“The players are in good shape and have been training well but there is no substitute to match practice. Whether it is a one day game or a four-day game, you bat or bowl for the same time in the nets,” a BCCI source told PTI.
“Since it is a four-day game, only time will tell if they are ready to stand in the field for longer periods or bowl multiple long spells. If you play a practice match, there is pressure. That same pressure is not there in the nets,” he further added.
Although Harmanpreet Kaur has already acknowledged that they have little time to prepare for the one-off Test, he insisted that India is “mentally prepared” for the match after receiving some insightful counsel from vice-captain of the men’s squad Ajinkya Rahane.
Shafali Verma, a 17-year-old batting prodigy, is likely to open the innings with Mandhana. She enters the game unburdened and has the potential to have a significant influence at the top of the order.
In what will be difficult circumstances for them as well, the seasoned team of Punam Raut, Harmanpreet, and Mithali will be required to complete the task.
As the home team prepares for the Ashes Test against Australia later in the year, there may be some relief in store for the batsmen with England opting for Kookaburra over Dukes ball, which does more, for the match.
It’s also unclear if Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey, two seasoned pacers who haven’t bowled for a while, will be able to continue bowling extended stretches. The spinners will be desperate to make up for their dismal limited-overs series against South Africa at home.
The visitors’ recent success in England, where they have won two of their last eight games, gives them cause for optimism. One of the six players in the squad who participated in England’s last Test match against India in August 2014 is Nat Sciver, the team’s outstanding all-rounder and recently named vice-captain.
That Wormsley match had been won by the tourists by six wickets. While England is still the favourite to win the match, Sciver believes India will play with no fear.
“They’re an ever-growing side. There’s always a new, young talent on the team who isn’t afraid to go out there and show what they’ve got. They seem to be more fearless than I’ve seen before,” Nat Sciver said.
“Couple that with a lot of experience in their team – with Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami – they can be a very difficult side to beat. Hopefully in England, in our conditions, we can hone our skills and make sure that we’re doing the right things. Last time we played India, we weren’t very good in that Test match and we didn’t play to our potential so hopefully we can do better this time,” she added.
India: Mithali Raj (captain), Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), Punam Raut, Priya Punia, Deepti Sharma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Sneh Rana, Taniya Bhatia (wicket-keeper), Indrani Roy, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Arundhati Reddy, Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bisht, Radha Yadav.
England: Heather Knight (captain), Emily Arlott, Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Tash Farrant, Sarah Glenn, Amy Jones, Nat Sciver (vice-captain), Anya Shrubsole, Mady Villiers, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield-Hill.