Mithali Raj

While high profile India-England men’s series has caught everyone’s attention, women’s teams from both the nations were also busy playing each other in a one-off Test match at Wormsley. The match between the India and England eves was short of verbal volleys thus away from media attention too, but the quality of cricket played was no less than professionals. Indian eves registered a historic win on last day of the Test match by chasing down a target of 181.

Playing their first Test after eight years Indian eves completed a fabulous win considering eight players were making debut. Last time India eves played a test was way back in 2006 and they defeated the English women’s team back then. Captain Mithali Raj led from the front and scored an unbeaten fifty in successful chase, she was well supported by night-watchwoman Shikha Pandey.

While Indian men’s team is floundering in the English conditions, their compatriots displayed a courageous and inspirational brand of cricket. Mithali Raj after winning the toss sensed the occasion and bowled first unlike Mahendra Singh Dhoni who on a seaming wicket in the fourth Test decided to bat first and then faced shambolic defeat inside three days with batsmen failing to take India past 200-run mark, Raj was tactically at her best throughout the Test.

Putting England eves to bat first, Indian bowlers responded prolifically and bundled them out for just 92 runs in their 1st innings, star with ball was right arm medium bowler Niranjana Nagarjan who scalped four wickets including the two England openers. India eves could not gain much of a lead in their 1st innings and were all-out for 114. Openers Thirush Kamini and Smriti Mandhana showed some kind of resistance, but India lost momentum thereafter and middle-order fell apart.

England fought their way back in 2nd innings and took their total to 202, effectively 180. Indian eves had their task cut out and the target of 181 looked daunting bearing in mind the inexperienced Indian batting line-up. Indian openers Kamini and Mandhana laid a strong foundation by notching up 76-run opening stand with latter scoring a half-century and eased the burden on middle-order. If one takes a look at Indian men’s openers, things look contrasting, in nine innings against England so far Indian openers have failed to cross even a 50-run mark once. This is how a win is set-up after bowling your opposition out you need openers to step-up to the occasion and deliver. Quick wickets pegged India back, but it was Captain Mithali Raj’s turn to hold the innings together and see India progress towards the target. Raj guided India home in a brainy manner and stitched a match winning partnership of 68 with Shikha Pandey.

Indian eves did not comprehensively dominate the proceedings, but were never shy of putting up a fight back to register a milestone win against a side which was more experienced and habituated to the conditions. Indian men’s team after going one up early in the series lost the momentum and never actually put up a fight. Nothing but inspiration is what men’s team can in fact should draw from the proud women’s team.