As many as five visiting players made their Test debut as India Women made their return to the format after seven years in a one-off encounter against England Women at Bristol.
After England captain Heather Knight won the toss and elected to bat, the Indian bowlers failed to make early inroads but came back into the contest in the final session. The hosts finished on 269/6 at the end of the day’s play, with the used pitch holding up for the most part.
Here are three major talking points from Day 1 of India Women’s return to Test cricket.
#3 The Indian pacers could have bowled better lengths
After being put into the field, the Indian bowlers got some movement in the air with the brand new Dukes ball. While Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey and Pooja Vastrakar bowled decently in the first session, they arguably could’ve hit better lengths.
Goswami, all of 38 years old, tirelessly sent down several overs in the first two sessions. Although she induced an edge that was shelled in the slips, she was probably a tad too short with the new ball. When she tried to get the English batters on the front foot, the end result was usually a confident drive against an overpitched delivery.
All three of Pandey, Goswami and Vastrakar bowled well considering the circumstances, beating the bat on occasion and getting the odd one to hold its line. But their lack of pinpoint accuracy meant that India had to resort to spin very early in the piece.
#2 England batters show great application and resolve
Batting first on a challenging Bristol wicket, England openers Lauren Winfield-Hill and Tammy Beaumont showed great application and resolve to clinch the first session of the Test match by a significant margin.
The odd chance manifested itself, but Winfield-Hill and Beaumont dug in soon after seeing out the new ball. They used the sweep to great effect against the spin of Sneh Rana, and were severe on anything that was short from the pacers.
Winfield-Hill couldn’t capitalize on her start as Vastrakar scalped her maiden Test wicket, but Beaumont and captain Heather Knight stitched together a calm, assertive partnership. The skipper, batting at No. 3, made 95 off 175 balls, while the opener was dismissed for 66 off 144.
Even the previously out-of-form Nat Sciver joined in on the fun, scoring 42 off 75 balls before being trapped in front by Deepti Sharma.
#1 Has India’s questionable decision to play Sneh Rana paid off?
India made a big call at the toss for the one-off Test against England by handing Sneh Rana a Test debut.
Picking the off-spinner against an English batting lineup that primarily features right-handers was a strange decision, especially ahead of choices like the experienced Ekta Bisht and Poonam Yadav. Even Radha Yadav, an accurate left-arm spinner, was believed to be ahead of Rana in the pecking order.
But on the whole, at the end of Day 1, it can be said that India’s decision has been justified. Rana took a couple overs to settle into a rhythm, but once she did, she consistently challenged both edges of the English batters. The 27-year-old ended up taking the wickets of Beaumont, the in-form Amy Jones and Georgia Elwiss, and bowled well in tandem with another off-spinner in Deepti Sharma.
While it’s impossible to tell if Bisht or Yadav would’ve made a bigger impact, Rana put in a superb performance in her first outing for the Indian team in four years.