Can Harmanpreet defy the odds to prevent a looming Follow-on for India?

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safari
18 Jun 2021 | 04:32 AM
authorAnirudh Kasargod

Can Harmanpreet defy the odds to prevent a looming Follow-on for India?

A 167-run opening partnership led the charge for India before quick wickets at the brink of stumps turned the tables

The England batters added another 127 runs to their overnight score of 269 before declaring the innings. An unbeaten half-century by the debutant Sophia Dunkley (74*) led the charge for England on day two. Indian pacers were quick to break through as they dismissed Katherine Brunt in the second over of the day. But, England’s lower-order batters provided perfect support. A 59-run partnership between Sophie Ecclestone and Dunkley for the eighth wicket followed by a quickfire 70-run partnership off 59 balls for the ninth wicket between Anya Shrubsole and Dunkley saw England post 396 runs for the loss of nine wickets before declaring.

In reply, India’s opening pair of Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Varma led the charge with a bang. The young pocket dynamo, playing her first Test, was not in the complete T20 mode but somewhere thereabout. She registered an 83-ball half-century and looked good for a big one. However, she fell four runs short of becoming the first-ever Indian batter to century on Test debut. At the other end, Mandhana collected 78 runs with a collective mixture of intent and composure. That was it for India on day two. As soon as they fell, the middle order followed them like a herd of sheep. 167 for no loss at one stage became 187 for five by the end of the day's play.

With India trailing by 209 runs, England surely have the advantage, especially when India are 58 runs behind follow-on. Who can be the enforcer for India? A lot to expect from day three:

The Weather

As an Indian fan, the weather for 18th June in Bristol is encouraging. For most of the day, it is expected to be cloudy with sporadic drizzles. At the start of the day, around 10 o'clock there is a 78 percent chance of rain through to noon. Throughout the day, there is a 60 percent precipitation chance in Bristol on Friday.

A follow-on threat for India

Falling from a comfortable position to an inhospitable one, India lost five wickets for 16 runs, four of those in a span of 23 balls. Now, from a position of taking lead, they have stumbled down to have to scramble to save the follow-on. As the Women’s Tests are of four days, the conventional four-day follow-on rules of MCC are applicable. For England to enforce the follow-on, India’s deficit should be in excess of 150.

A Harmanpreet special needed

The Indian skipper of the shortest format has saved her team from these kinds of situations several times. On day three, she needs to replicate one of her best innings from the limited-overs format into the longest format. The agony is, in 15 first-class matches Harman has only one half-century. This means she needs to defy the odds and go all-out to bail India out of trouble.

How does the number stack up after enforcing a follow-on?

In Women’s cricket, there are eight instances of teams enforcing the follow-on, starting from 1948 when Australia Women played New Zealand Women in Wellington. In those eight matches, the team enforcing the follow-on has emerged victorious six times while twice the game ended in a draw. India have been forced to follow on only once in their Test history and it was against Australia in 2006 in Adelaide, which they lost. On the other hand, England have enforced a follow-on once in their W-Test history and it was way back in 1960 against South Africa. The game ended in a draw.

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England Women vs India WomenIndia Women Tour of England, 2021India WomenEngland WomenShafali VermaSmriti MandhanaHarmanpreet Kaur

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