After seven long years, India and England met each other to play the longest format, and what an exciting contest it was between the two sides over the last four days, albeit the result being a draw. The pendulum of fortune swung from one end to the other over the period of a Test match.
Trailing by 82 runs with nine wickets in hand and 108 overs to play going into the fourth and final day of the Test, the odds were stacked up against India. However, the visitors showed their class and managed to sneak in a draw. Shafali Verma (63) and Deepti Sharma (54) started off the day well, before the 17-year old was dismissed trying to hit one in the air. Suddenly the England camp was buzzing with energy and the tension shifted hands from England to India. Punam Raut made her way to the center and fighting the ghosts of the first innings, the Mumbai bat started on a positive note. The 32-year old batted with intent, which was missing in her first innings display. Together with Sharma, Raut put together 72 runs for the third wicket-taking India six runs past the England score of 396.
Left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone who struck with a four-for in the first innings continued to wreak havoc with the ball as she sent back Sharma. In a matter of a couple of overs, Ecclestone also got the better of India captain Mithali Raj (4) who was bowled cheaply. With 171-3 at one stage to 175-5, India lost Raut (39), who was dismissed by Natalie Sciver, just after Raj, who was bowled by Ecclestone.
At one stage when Raut and Sharma were going strong, a draw was inevitable. But when the wickets of Sharma, Raj, and Raut fell, suddenly an England win seemed possible. India vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur (8), Pooja Vastrakar (12), and Shikha Pandey (18) looked to build the innings but perished against the run of play.
Towards the end when India was struggling at 240-8, it was just a matter of time for England to send the visitors packing. However, the debutants; Sneh Rana (80 not out) and wicket-keeper Taniya Bhatia (44 not out) kept India in the hunt and did not give up. They stitched a 104 run partnership to help India draw the Test, which was almost a goner. Rana, who made her India comeback after five years, courtesy of her prolific domestic performances in the recent past, proved herself once again with the bat, after having a successful game with the ball. Bhatia, too played her role well and gave a good company to Rana.
Taking a lead of 179 runs and with hardly any overs left to play the match ended in a draw. Debutant Shafali Verma won the Player of the Match award for scoring 159 runs in the match.
A Test win against India in England still eludes the hosts. With 14 Tests played between themselves, India has won two, England has won one, and the remaining 11 have been drawn.
I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.