It took only one session on Day 3 of the four-day Test for India Women to pack up England after declaring overnight on a score of 186-6 with a lead of 478. It was a clinical display of bowling from the Indian pacers and spinners alike, with the pacers Renuka Singh Thakur and Pooja Vastrakar dismissing four English batters early in the morning. They prodigiously moved the ball into the batter, both in the air and off the pitch, cleaning up the top 4 of England.
After that, it was a Deepti Sharma show as she picked up four English batters in the second innings after dismissing five in the first. She also earned the accolade of having the best figures for an Indian bowler in a home Test match. If 9-39 in a single game wasn’t enough, she also scored 87 runs and was rightly adjudged the Player of the Match.
Her all-around brilliance wasn’t lost on head coach Amol Muzumdar, either. When asked to talk about Deepti’s performance, he smiled, “You're talking about Stokesy? I jokingly call her Ben Stokes in the team. The confidence she's carrying and the confidence she's gained. She's an important cog in the wheel.”
That confidence would come in handy for the Indian off-spin allrounder against Australia in the upcoming Test as well. When the question was asked directly to Deepti about her bowling in the Test, she kind of underplayed her brilliance and just said in a sombre fashion that she “Was getting a lot of help from the wicket, so tried to bowl in the right areas. Harmanpreet was advising me to bowl in the right areas.”
Along with Deepti, the other Indian batters and bowlers were top-notch in the Test. English skipper Heather Knight acknowledged it and said that “they [the Indian team] made us [England] suffer.”
“The conditions are something we're not used to. We were trying to find a way to score runs. We were better today in our tempo, but it was still tricky. A lot of learnings for us, and think of the kind of toolbox you need to play here. Charlie Dean, in particular, bowled very well last evening, Lauren Bell, with the control she had with her consistency, was the highlight for us. Execution is key to taking wickets. It's an ultimate experience to play a Test match here. Hope we don't need to wait for nine years.”
Meanwhile, the Indian skipper naturally had contrasting reactions and focussed on how Indian players played the role given to them to perfection. Captain Harmanpreet Kaur said,
“Everything went according to plan, and credit goes to every team member. Definitely, it was a plan to bowl to England like that. We had prepared accordingly. Every player performed their role.” She also dwelled on the overnight declaration, which raised a few eyebrows as there were still two entire days left in the game, and Harmanpreet herself was just six runs away from a maiden fifty in WTests.
“The first 40 minutes were very crucial, and we thought if we could get 3-4 wickets, that could help us win the game. I know I'll get more chances to score half-centuries and centuries in the future.” the Indian captain remarked at the post-match presentation.
The Indian Women’s team will face the Australian team in a Test at the Wankhede starting December 21.