India secured a single test tie here, batting the entire fourth day to finish 344 of eight, dashing England’s hopes of clinching a first test win at home in 16 years.
An astonishing rearguard effort by No.8 Sneh Rana, who had not played an international game since February 2016 but went unbeaten by 80 in her test debut, allowed India to hit until 6.15pm, at which point the teams shook hands with a draw.
“We really tried to force a result,” England captain Heather Knight said. “The way we played the whole game, we were trying to move the game forward and force that result. The rain on the third day didn’t help us much and not getting all the overs didn’t help.
“It was a tough field to force when India decided to go out of business. We tried everything, but we couldn’t force it. “
The tourists came out of the tea eight wickets down and 78 races ahead, leaving England hoping for victory, but Rana closed the session safely alongside Taniya Bhatia (44th). Half a century from Deepti Sharma earlier in the day was also critical.
The result means that the teams enter the ODI stage of the multi-format series, which starts here next Sunday, with two points each.
England’s best hope of securing victory came through Sophie Ecclestone, who finished in eight figures for 206 and sent 32 overs on the final day, but was unable to finish the job for her side.
Ecclestone had first dashed India’s hopes in the day’s third over, when his long-awaited showdown with Shafali Verma ended in disappointment for the 17-year-old. Verma missed a complete pitch at 63, Katherine Brunt took a spectacular catch running and diving to full length and Verma’s second chance in a century of testing on debut went under.
India fought back for the remainder of the morning session, eliminating their first-inning deficit by losing two wickets thanks to a 72-run partnership between Deepti Sharma (54) and Punam Raut (39). But just before lunch, after three and a half hours of impassive defense, Sharma lost his mind and dragged Ecclestone onto his own stumps.
Ecclestone’s spell before and after lunch, which lasted 15 overs, continued to tear at the heart of the Indian defenses. Four overs after Sharma’s downfall, Mithali Raj’s two-decade test run in England ended in disgrace when he was thrown by an arm ball from Ecclestone, then attempted a DRS review before finally accepting defeat (his consecutive run count: six).
Harmanpreet Kaur’s renowned window followed, as she finished off a sweep attempt and Amy Jones clung to the skier.
There are no test rankings produced for women’s cricket, but if there were, Ecclestone would surely have the right to be on top of them.
By bowling alongside Ecclestone, Nat Sciver, Scrooge-style, helped build up pressure, conceding a run on his first 10 plus spell and eventually eliminating India’s other key line of defense, Raut, trapped in square leg.
Right before tea, she inducted a Shikha Pandey lead at 18 to Amy Jones behind the stumps.
England fans would have been forgiven for thinking the job was done; but the association between Rana and Bhatia put the most important on their side to shame.
Although the match ultimately ended in a stalemate, both sides will reflect on a job well done in the cause of more women’s test cricket – this game was anything but boring. Over the course of four days, a new generation of gamers proved that they can succeed in the multi-day game. Of the six debutants, four reached the middle of the centuries, while Verma, who became the first woman to reach three sixes in a test, has endorsed the format.
The hope is that the boards of directors will ensure that the fans do not take another seven years to enjoy a repeat encounter.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism