Half-centuries from Heather Knight and Tammy Beaumont helped England pile on the runs against India, before late wickets from the visitors put them back in the hunt on an engrossing opening day of the women's Test.
India, playing their first Test in seven years, were made to toil after they were asked to field, with England's openers Beaumont and Lauren Winfield-Hill put on a 69-run stand. The runs kept flowing thereafter, but India had some cheer in the final session, with the off-spinners Sneh Rana and Deepti Sharma triggering a collapse.
However, India could have started off a lot better had Harmanpreet Kaur hung on to a chance at first slip after Jhulan Goswami forced an error from Winfield-Hill when she was on 3. Winfield-Hill and Beaumont exploited the let-off, putting on a near-flawless partnership thereafter.
Stumps in Bristol!— ICC (@ICC) June 16, 2021
Half-centuries from Beaumont and Knight made it a difficult day for India, but late wickets boost their hopes.
England are 269/6 at the close.#ENGvIND | https://t.co/5vDQydoW0J pic.twitter.com/1IV5chB9mu
Just when it looked like nothing could breach the partnership, Pooja Vastrakar broke through. Winfield-Hill smashed the Indian bowlers with two massive sixes that took the hosts past the 50-run mark, but then departed for 35 after being caught behind off Vastrakar.
India couldn't build on the opening though, with Heather Knight, captaining England for the 100th time, strutted to the middle. She put on a 71-run stand with Beaumont, with the latter doing the attacking. The afternoon session was commanded by the duo, with Beaumont going on to register her second Test fifty.
She looked good for a lot more, but Rana had her number. Having scored an assured 66 runs, Beaumont sent one to short-leg off Rana, where Shafali Verma pouched a good chance. Once again, however, India couldn't build on the breakthrough. Knight and Natalie Sciver steadied the ship, taking England to Tea at 162/2, and piled on the runs in the first hour after the restart.
Knight racked up her half-century, off 115 balls, and accelerated thereafter. She added 90 runs off just 149 deliveries with Sciver, who scored a quickfire 42, and India seemed in all sorts of trouble at the peak of their partnership. However, Deepti Sharma then made her mark, trapping Sciver in front.
And at long last, India were able to capitalise on the breakthrough. Amy Jones managed just a solitary run before Rana had her trapped in front. Then, Deepti was back to claim the big fish – Knight was just five short of a fine century, but couldn't handle the drift from Deepti and was trapped plumb in the middle.
When Georgia Elwiss became Rana's third wicket shortly thereafter, India's prospects brightened significantly. Sophia Dunkley and Katherine Brunt took England to stumps, but India have their tails up, and will be hopeful of wrapping up the innings early on the second morning.
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