Trailing by over 200 runs at the start of the day’s play, all India wanted was a good start. But, it was the polar opposite of what India expected. Harmanpreet Kaur was packed off on the first delivery of the day by Sophie Ecclestone. Soon after, Taniya Bhatia fell prey in a similar way as Harmanpreet, and Sneh Rana too was undone by a beauty from Ecclestone. Though Deepti Sharma provided some fight, it wasn’t enough for India to avoid the follow-on.
Forced to follow-on for the second time in their Test career, India would have expected a similar start from Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma. But, Mandhana wasn’t up to the cause as she departed early. Since then, Shafali and Deepti have steadied the ship by adding 54 runs for the second wicket. Shafali once again has taken the limelight by registering yet another half-century. She became the first Indian batter and the fourth overall batter to achieve this feat. Before things could get more exciting, the rain played a spoilsport and washed out the entire last session.
Heading into the last day of this only Test between England-W and India-W, there are lots of possibilities. Here are a few things to look forward to:
It was a dull day for cricketing fans in the UK. The all-awaited World Test Championship final’s first day in Southampton was washed out completely because of the torrential rains. In Bristol, it was a start-stop day until the second session. For the last day, the weather seems to be an encouraging sight. It is expected to be bright and dry at the start and later there might be cloud cover. But, there is very little chance of rain, which is a good sign.
Shafali’s aggression could give India a glimmer of chance
It might sound impossible or imaginative, but, if Shafali hangs for the entire first session, there might be a very, very slim shot for the visitors. India are trailing by 82 runs now. If Shafali is able to cut down the deficit within the first hour and take a lead of at least 60 by the end of the first session and manage another 70 to 80 in the first hour of the second session. India will have a lead of 140-150. With one and a half sessions and a possible extra half hour, India might have a chance, imaginary but not impossible.
Can we expect a Mithali special?
Mithali Raj is one of the finest cricketers. On the last day of the Test match, she has to bring in all her experience to save this game for India. Contrasting to the responsibility on her shoulders, her record when batting in the third innings isn’t great. In two innings, she has scored only 31 runs at an average of 15.5. Backing her experience, one or two bad innings shouldn’t hamper her confidence.
The Sophie Ecclestone threat
The number one ranked bowler in the shortest format, Ecclestone was the biggest tormentor for India in the first innings bagging four wickets. She will be the biggest threat to India. In general, Ecclestone has pretty good numbers against India in the limited-overs format. As most of the present Indian batters play the limited overs format, she would know most of their strengths and weaknesses.