One-off Test, DY Patil Sports Academy, Mumbai: (day three of four)
India 428 (104.3 overs) & 186-6 dec (42 overs): Kaur 44*, Dean 4-68
England 136 (35.3 overs) & 131 (27.3 overs): Knight 21; Sharma 4-32
England were bowled out in the first session of day three to slump to a crushing 347-run defeat in the one-off Test against India.
Set an improbable 478 to win, England fell to 131 all out inside 27.3 overs.
Spinner Deepti Sharma took 4-32 to finish with nine wickets in the match, and seamer Pooja Vastrakar impressed with 3-23.
It is the first time that India have beaten England in a home Test.
India captain Harmanpreet Kaur declared before the start of play on 186-6 and set England the highest-ever chase in women’s Test cricket, or the unlikely challenge of batting the remaining two days for a draw.
After the spinners dominated day two with 19 wickets falling, it was India’s seamers who dominated the penultimate day as Renuka Singh Thakur struck early to bowl Tammy Beaumont for 17.
Pooja Vastrakar then bowled with impressive discipline and athleticism, gifted a wicket by Sophia Dunkley slashing straight to point before producing the key moment, bowling Nat Sciver-Brunt for a first-ball duck.
Sharma and fellow spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad then tore through England’s out-of-sorts middle order, who looked low on confidence on a tricky pitch having been bowled out for just 136 the preceding day.
Captain Heather Knight’s 21 was England’s highest individual score while number eight Charlie Dean finished unbeaten on 20.
The conditions were favourable for bowling but England were outplayed across the three days in all departments, with all of Knight’s side playing their first Test match in India.
Ruthless India pounce on below-par England
While the pitch and conditions were undoubtedly very different to anything England’s players would have experienced before in their brief Test careers, it was a hugely disappointing performance from Knight’s side.
Their second innings with the bat was a record for the fewest overs batted in a women’s Test innings, and their first innings (35.3 overs) the fourth-fewest.
On days two and three, the pitch favoured the bowlers – England themselves proved that by taking six India wickets in their second effort with the ball – but by no means was it unplayable.
It offered some turn, some bounce and some spice for the seamers but that is what a good Test-match pitch should offer, and on day one India set an example of how to bat on it.
Dunkley, Beaumont and Wyatt were out to loose shots, but Sciver-Brunt and Knight could not do much about the beauties they got from Vastrakar – the former getting her off stump knocked out of the ground and the captain nicking behind to a ball that seamed and bounced off the pitch.
Amy Jones chipped a catch straight to mid-wicket and Sophie Ecclestone was a place too high at seven, trying to sweep almost every ball she faced before inevitably being bowled for 10.
It was a tough assignment for England, who have not played a Test in India since 2005, and an experience from which their young side should learn valuable lessons, but the manner in which they folded twice with little fight is what disappointed, as well as their continued struggles against spin.
But there were positives, particularly with the ball, as Lauren Bell was the only seamer to match the potency that India’s quicker bowlers managed with her swing and accuracy, while Dean also threatened with turn and bounce throughout.
England have got a long break now before their next international outing in the UK summer of 2024, but many of their players will be back in India at the start of the year for franchise cricket in the Women’s Premier League.
India, meanwhile, will be grateful for their extra day of rest as they take on Australia in their second Test of the winter, starting on Thursday.
‘A massive result for India and women’s cricket’ – reaction
India captain Harmanpreet Kaur: “Everything went according to our plan. Credit goes to every member of our team. It was such a good feeling after winning the game.
“[Pooja Vastrakar] was outstanding. Not only her but each and every bowler in this game.”
England captain Heather Knight: “It’s an awesome experience to play a Test match in India. It hasn’t gone how we’d want it to but if we do play another one, we’ll have learned a lot from this experience.
“The conditions were extreme, they’re something we’re not used to and trying to find a way to score runs and survive. But scoring runs was tough for us.”
BBC Test Match Special’s Henry Moeran: “The focus in this part of the world will be on England, but for India – and perhaps the future of women’s Tests – this is a massive result. “If India can have another good game against Australia next week then there’ll be real momentum for more red-ball cricket, and that’s ultimately a wonderful thing.”
Olivia Martin is a dedicated sports journalist based in the UK. With a passion for various athletic disciplines, she covers everything from major league championships to local sports events, delivering up-to-the-minute updates and in-depth analysis.