India vs England one-off Test: Dashing debutants

Shubha Satheesh and Jemimah Rodrigues scored fifties while Renuka Singh Thakur gave early breakthroughs

Mrinalini Majumdar
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(L to R) Shubha Satheesh, Renuka Singh Thakur, Jemimah Rodrigues © Getty

India won the Test against England by a whopping margin of 347 runs registering the biggest win in terms of runs in the history of Women’s Tests. While the whole team performed exceptionally for India and Deepti Sharma walked away with the headlines, the three debutants were also among the thick of things during the one-off Test.

Donning white and playing with the red ball for the first time at home in nine years, India faced England in a four-day Test at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.On the first day morning, they handed out three debutant caps to Jemimah Rodrigues, Renuka Singh Thakur and Shubha Satheesh.

While Renuka and Rodrigues had enough experience at the international level, Shubha was playing her first game at this level.

On the first day of the Test, England started well as they picked up Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma early enough. But that brought the debutants together at the crease and the duo of Shubha and Rodrigues brought the hosts back into the game with a counterpunch as India made 136 for 2 in 27 overs before the lunch break.

The DY Patil Stadium pitch might have had a skiddy nature at the start, but it did favour the batters. Despite the rising humidity, the conditions did make it a decent ground for both teams to play in. The visiting spinners couldn’t slow down the Indian pair and with a partnership of 115 runs, they took India to the 160-run mark.

Recently acquired by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), Shubha smashed a stellar 49-ball-50 on her first outing. That meant the left-hander had the second fastest fifty for India in Tests where ball-by-ball data is available.Only Sangita Dabir’s 50 off 40 balls came at a faster rate. With a strike rate of 90.78, the left-hand batter batted 13 fours.

Sophie Ecclestone did take out Shubha in the 33rd over and by the time she fell she amassed 69 runs to her name at a strike rate of 90.78 including 13 fours.

However, Rodrigues continued to intimidate the visitors with a flurry of boundaries with a solid Harmanpreet Kaur at the other end. The Mumbaikar too hit her maiden half-century off 82 balls. Rodrigues smashed 11 fours during her knock of 68.

Although they didn’t go on to breach the three-figure mark, the debutants set a solid foundation for the other batters to exploit and that eventually helped India go on to set that mammoth first innings score.

On the morning of the second day, England returned to the field with a profound zeal. They picked up enough wickets to bring Renuka to bat towards the end as well. The bowler only managed to score a single before being taken out by Ecclestone.

In the first session of Day 2, Renuka accounted for Sophia Dunkley for once again as the England opener continued to remain clueless against the swing bowler. Renuka didn’t show any nerves on her Test debut and brought the consistency that she displayed throughout her limited overs career so far .

With India not enforcing the follow on, Shubha couldn’t bat in the second innings owing to the injury she suffered on her finger. Rodrigues continued to look her fluent self in the second gig as well where she scored 27 off 29 balls.

Once again it was Renuka’s turn on Day 3 with India setting a mammoth 479-run target. The pacer once again was in her elements and accounted for Tammy Beaumont with a delivery that straightened to castle the stumps.

An experienced campaigner in limited overs, Renuka had recently suffered a stress injury and missed a lot of cricket before making her comeback during the T20I series. With her taking seven wickets from three matches, the only concern was about her lasting the whole Test match if the game was to go the distance. India will be hoping for a similar performance from the 27-year-old against Australia.

Renuka, Rodrigues and Shubha might have been on their Test debut, but they did the hard yards at the domestic and international level to be there. And to be fair, India made sure that they had the best of preparations during the four-day warm-up match between India and India A in Bangalore.