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A brief history of Indian Women’s Test cricket

Last updated on 21 May 2021 | 10:24 AM
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A brief history of Indian Women’s Test cricket

The Indian Women’s team will be featuring in a Test after a long gap of six years and 208 days

Every childhood bedtime story we heard started with “Once upon a time”. Indian Women’s Test story is pretty similar. In fact, apart from England and Australia, none of the other eight teams have featured in a Test since 2014. Since 2015, there have been 268 men’s Tests and only three played by women. The scarcity of women’s Test is such that when it was announced that India are set to play a Test in June against England and later in September-October against Australia in their first-ever Day-Night Test, it was met with a pleasant surprise never seen before.

Heading towards the first Test for India in nearly seven years, let’s look back at India’s Test history. 

India have played 36 Tests in 44 years. The first Test dates back to 1976 when Shantha Rangaswamy led India against the West Indies Women in Bengaluru. A six-match Test series against the West Indies was a history in itself. Never has there been a bigger women’s Test series, not even in The Ashes.

However, the year 1976 was the only one in which India played more than five Tests. In the following year (1977), India played two Tests. Later on, for seven years there was a break. Then, for the next three consecutive years (1984-86), India played at least three matches each year. Between 1991 and 1999, India played eight Tests. In the first 24 years, India had played 26 Tests out of the 36 played.

Speaking of wins, India Women didn’t take too much time to get off the mark as compared to men. In their fourth Test, they embarked on their first win. In comparison, the Indian men’s team took 24 matches to get off the mark. Interestingly, India Women had to wait for another 23 matches and 25 years for their next win that came in 2002.

In the 26 matches they played between 1976-1999, they had one win and five losses and the other 20 ended up as a draw. However, fortunes changed in the 21st century. Though they have played fewer matches, the wins have increased. In 10 Tests since 2000, they have won four, out of which, the last three have been in succession. Two of them came against England and both were in their backyard (2006 & 2014). The other win was in their last Test played which was in 2014 against South Africa in Mysore.

India Women have played nine matches against Australia, 13 against England, six against New Zealand, two against South Africa and six against West Indies. Against England and South Africa, they have won two apiece. They have been winless against Australia and New Zealand. In any case, they haven’t lost against New Zealand though, with all six ending in a stalemate.


There haven't been a lot of opportunities for the players who made their debut post-2000. Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami are the only two players to be a part of all the 10 matches played in this time. When it comes to the all-time list among batters, Sandhya Agarwal tops the chart with over 1100 runs, the only batter to this landmark amongst Indians. She has scored those runs at an average of 50.5 with four centuries. Mithali with 663 runs at 51 is fourth in the all-time list.

Among the bowlers, Diana Edulji, a member of the now-defunct supreme court-appointed Committee of Administration and a former captain of India Women leads the wicket-takers list with 63 scalps at an average of 25.8. Overall, she is the third-highest wicket-taker after Mary Duggan (77) of England and Betty Wilson (68) of Australia.


India’s current three consecutive winning streak is the joint-most for a team. Australia Women is the other team to achieve this and they have done it thrice.

Mithali Raj has the highest score of 214 against England in 2002. She is the only Indian woman batter to score a double century in Tests. Also, her score is the second-highest in the women's Test.

Neetu David holds the record for the best bowling figures in an innings in a women’s Test (8/53) against England in Jamshedpur in 1995. This is the only instance of a women bowler with eight wickets in an innings.

Shubhangi Kulkarni has bagged a five-wicket haul in an innings five times which is the joint-most among bowlers alongside Mary Duggan.

Shubhangi Kulkarni had 23 wickets in India’s first-ever Test series in 1976 against West Indies, which is the joint-most for a bowler in a series. Julia Greenwood from England also had 23 wickets against the same opposition in 1979.

Shubhangi Kulkarni was 17y and 104d old when she picked up a five-wicket haul in her debut Test (India’s first Test), the second youngest in women’s cricket after Isobel Joyce (17y and 5d).

Jhulan Goswami bagged her only 10-wicket haul in a match at the age of 23y and 277d, the youngest among all the bowlers.

Anjum Chopra is the only Indian Women player to open the batting as well as bowling in the same match – against England in 1995 in Hyderabad.

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