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"Conditions were really extreme" - Heather Knight after record defeat

Last updated on 16 Dec 2023 | 12:37 PM
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"Conditions were really extreme" - Heather Knight after record defeat

England lost 13 wickets to spin across two innings and were completely outclassed by India in the one-off Test

After losing the one-off Test against India by a record margin of 347 runs, England captain Heather Knight said the conditions at the DY Patil Sports Academy in Navi Mumbai were “extreme” and something that might not be seen in white-ball cricket. 

England lost 13 wickets to spin across two innings and were completely outclassed by India. The visitors could only manage scores of 136 and 131 and suffered the biggest defeat (by runs) in the history of Women’s Tests.

"These conditions were really extreme; we have never seen that sort of spin before, that sort of dryness in the pitch. In the main formats we play - T20 and 50 overs - we are not going to get as much (turn) as that,” ESPNcricinfo reported Knight as saying.

"Previously our issues against spin have been more [around] the ball not spinning. You'd look at the wickets Ash Gardner took in the Ashes, there weren't many that spun. My dismissal that spun but a lot was outside edge and balls that didn't spin.

"These conditions were extreme, and I'd be surprised if we face those again unless we play another Test in India in the near future, which I am not sure is in the plan. We want to get better in conditions we might face in Bangladesh. Spin does dominate in the women's game, and if we can improve that it will give us a big advantage."

England were always going to struggle once India amassed 428 in the first innings. Deepti Sharma scalped nine wickets with her off-spin, while Sneh Rana and Rajeshwari Gayakwad also took four wickets between them.

"(The pitch) probably deteriorated a bit faster than we expected. It was reasonably good in the first innings to bat on. The spin was quite extreme. We bowled pretty well on the first day with two wickets. A few nicks that did not carry, that can be soul-destroying for some of those fast bowlers when your best ball doesn't carry to slips.

"We identified that the wobble ball was really effective and tried to get as much out of that as we can. It seamed a little bit more because the pitch deteriorated and when it spins it does seam a little bit as well."

Charlie Dean also claimed four wickets in the second innings but England’s star bowler Sophie Ecclestone didn’t have a great game. The left-arm spinner picked up five wickets in the match but conceded runs at an economy of more than 4.

"The way Deepti bowled, she was very threatening. The offspinners for both teams felt more threatening because there was a lot more deterioration of the pitch. The left-armers to right-handers had to bowl more in the less trafficked areas, so it was harder to get sharp spin. She bowled well and a very attacking line and made it very attacking line and made it tricky for us,” said Knight.

"Sophie is coming back from a surgery and the expectation on her is so high. She is so brilliant, she is the best spinner in the world. The expectation from our side and also from herself - she puts a lot of expectation on herself - which is why she is so good. It was hard for her.

"When she was bowling to the right-handers, she was bowling on the best part of the pitch that hasn't had a lot of traffic on. The threat was more to the left-arm spinners to the left-handers, which she bowled very well to."

Knight, however, is happy with what England did in the three-match T20I series. They won the series 2-1 and look ready for the next year’s T20 World Cup in Bangladesh. "The T20 World Cup in Bangladesh is the big focus for us," she said.

"The way we played the first two T20Is, the first in particular, was brilliant for us. The T20 side is coming together for us very well. The last T20I we exposed some young players to those conditions, having won the series and with the Test match coming up.

"For the younger players to play in these conditions, but also being in India, it is a different place to tour. You have more time in hotels. The humidity (can get to you). It's a good place to learn. T20 World Cup in Bangladesh is the next time we get a chance to play in these conditions."

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