Sports

England Women's Tour Of India 2023, One-Off Test Preview: Harmanpreet Kaur And Co. Bank On Spin To Keep Visitors In Check

India's last appearance in the longest format was also against the Aussies in September 2021. They drew that away Test in Carrara and Smriti Mandhana was the star of that game with scores of 127 and 31

Harmanpreet Kaur-led India Women lost the preceding T20Is to England Women 2-1.
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After an underwhelming effort in the T20Is, Harmanpreet Kaur-led India will now shift to a format in which they have an undeniable edge over England, and a seasoned spin attack will be their primary weapon to maintain that advantage as the one-off women's Test between them will pan out over four days from Thursday. (Streaming | More Cricket News)

History, an unavoidable part of sport, offers a large slice of comfort to India as they have lost only one Test to England in 14 matches since their rivalry started in 1986 and Harmanpreet, who is leading India in Tests for the first time, would want to keep that proud record intact. 

Indian women's last appearance against Heather Knight's England had ended in a draw at Bristol in June 2021. Mandhana made a first-innings 78 while a young Shafali Verma was the top-performer with 96 and 63.

But the Test starting on the morrow also has another significance as it marks the arrival of a double bonanza for Indian women's cricket.

Given the lack of Test cricket in women's circuit a perennial debate point, Indians would not be complaining as they have two Tests lined up in the span of 10 days.

After their assignment against England at the DY Patil Stadium, Indians will face the indomitable Australians at the Wankhede Stadium from December 21-24 in a one-off Test.

India's last appearance in the longest format was also against the Aussies in September 2021. They drew that away Test in Carrara and Smriti Mandhana was the star of that game with scores of 127 and 31.

However, England have a more recent experience of playing Test cricket.

An exhilarating contest at Nottingham in June saw England take the fight to the Australians riding on a sensational 208 in the first innings by Tammy Beaumont but the hosts could not prevent an 89-run loss.

India would want to add to that count of defeats and they are well-prepared too.

The home side has bolstered the spin attack, including Bengal's left-arm spinner Saika Ishaque, who has had a successful year so far making her debut for Mumbai Indians and finishing as one of the highest wicket-takers (15) in the Women's Premier League (WPL).

For someone who has the knack of taking wickets in heap while keeping tight lines, Ishaque also made her T20I debut in the series against England and took three wickets in the final game to help India register a consolation win.

Karnataka's left-handed opening batter Shubha Satheesh is also among the new faces after impressing in the four-day practice matches in Bangalore during the senior team's camp.

Among the batters, Jemimah Rodrigues and Harleen Deol are yet to have an experience of Test cricket while one-Test-old Yastika Bhatia might get the nod ahead of Richa Ghosh for the wicket-keeper's role.

India have seamer Renuka Singh Thakur return to the squad and given her exploits with the new ball in the recent T20Is, the team will hope for similar returns. In spin, India have experienced campaigners in Sneh Rana and Deepti Sharma, which might keep Ishaque waiting in the wings.

For England, Emma Lamb was withdrawn owing to an injury with batter Maia Bouchier and Kirstie Gordon coming into the squad.

But the visitors will hope for a productive outing from the experienced Nat Sciver-Brunt, Knight, Danni Wyatt, Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone.

The visitors have an extra motivation going into the game as it will be their 100th (completed) Test, given that their only win over India in 14 Tests came in 1995 at Jamshedpur, when they won by a narrow margin of two runs.

Squads
India Women's: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Richa Ghosh (wk), Sneh Rana, Shubha Satheesh, Harleen Deol, Saika Ishaque, Renuka Singh, Titas Sadhu, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Pooja Vastrakar.

England Women's: Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Alice Capsey, Kate Cross, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Lauren Filer, Bess Heath (wk), Amy Jones (wk), Heather Knight (c), Emma Lamb, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Danielle Wyatt.

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