England fall to record defeat against India in one-off women’s Test | Women’s cricket

England flopped to one of their worst Test defeats after India wiped them out for 131 in the second innings, sealing the win with a day and a half to spare. India’s margin of victory – 347 runs – is the highest recorded in a women’s Test by runs and raises questions about England’s progress under Jon Lewis after their embarrassing T20 series loss against Sri Lanka in September.

Deepti Sharma took four further wickets to finish with a match-haul of nine for 39 – the best figures by an Indian spinner in a women’s Test – while Pooja Vastrakar’s three for 23 included the pivotal scalp of Nat Sciver-Brunt, bowled for a golden duck.

On a day that should have all been about patiently batting out time, England’s batters completely failed to dig in, apparently stuck in the aggressive mindset, which has been the hallmark of Lewis. Sophia Dunkley sliced Vastrakar straight into the hands of gully, Amy Jones pulled to midwicket, while Sophie Ecclestone tried and missed the sweep shot so many times that it was a matter of time before she perished at the hands of Rajeshwari Gayakwad.

Heather Knight was “philosophical” about the loss. “None of us have played a Test match here before,” the captain said. “We were trying to adapt in the moment, with two days’ preparation. We’ve learned a lot from it and if we do have a Test match here again in the future, we’d have a better idea of how to go about it.

“It’s something that India does to you as a cricketer. When you do face these extreme conditions – it really challenges you, and exposes areas in your game that you need to be better at, and different skillsets you need to have against different bowlers in different conditions.”

Despite being 44 not out overnight, India’s captain, Harmanpreet Kaur, opted for an immediate declaration. England started well enough, with Dunkley whipping out the scoop shot and Tammy Beaumont coming down the track to Sneh Rana, in a first-wicket partnership of 28. But in her third over, Renuka Singh broke through Beaumont’s defences with a ball that straightened and pegged back off stump.

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Vastrakar, introduced in the 10th over, immediately dealt a double blow, removing Dunkley and the in-form Sciver-Brunt in successive deliveries. The ball to get Sciver-Brunt was a beauty that nipped in off the seam and while Knight managed to cash in with three boundaries in an over from Renuka, Vastrakar showed her mastery of seam movement by moving one gently away from the England captain, which took her outside edge, and sailed through to the keeper.

“Pooja was outstanding,” Knight said. “It’s a good lesson to our bowlers about how to bowl in these conditions.”

Four balls later, Danni Wyatt was dismissed by Deepti for the second time in the match, prodding to slip, and with Jones holding out to midwicket in the off-spinner’s next over, India were through to the tail.

Kate Cross and Lauren Bell had some fun, smashing four boundaries between them, but Lauren Filer, charging down the pitch, was bowled for a duck, handing Deepti a ninth wicket in the match. England were all out within 28 overs, before lunch had been served; only Charlie Dean, unbeaten on 20, managed to withstand the onslaught.

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England’s Danni Wyatt trudges off after being dismissed for 12. Photograph: Pankaj Nangia/ECB/Getty Images

“Our mentality in the second innings was a lot better,” Knight said. “We talked about wanting to score runs and try and put pressure back on the bowlers, but also doing it in a controlled way – choosing the balls that we were going to attack and the ones that we were going to defend, and what our best scoring options were. We tried to execute today, but didn’t quite get it all together.”

She added that England had zero regrets about their decision to opt for an extra seamer at the expense of a batter, which appeared to cost them after they were dismissed cheaply in both innings. “It was a hard selection to make,” she said. “But in India’s second innings, I was glad to have the extra bowler.”

The win is a well-timed one for India, who – unusually in women’s cricket – have another Test immediately on the horizon, this time against Australia beginning on Thursday. With a first home Test win in nine years now under their belt, they will be firm favourites to add another one.


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