Fifty on debut is a special moment she will savour for a long time says Sophia Dunkley

Sophia Dunkley raises her bat after scoring a maiden half-century ©Getty Images

Day two of the one-off Test match between England and India at the County Cricket Ground in Bristol saw batting masterclass from two debutantes Sophia Dunkley and Shafali Verma. While Verma fell agonizingly close to a century it was Dunkley, who dominated the start of the day with a well compiled 74 not out.

Sophia Dunkley was on 12 overnight and added another 62 runs to remain unbeaten on 74 off 127 balls as Heather Knight declared England’s innings on 396 for nine. Dunkley, who made her T20I debut during T20 World Cup 2018, was excited about her maiden Test fifty and having her mother in the crowd made it more special.

“It’s a very exciting day for me today. [I was] just trying to get the team in a good position. Me and Soph (Sophie Eccelstone) had a long partnership and to get 50 was very special and nice to have mum in the crowd as well,” Dunkley said at the post match media interaction on Thursday (June 17).

“It was all a bit of a blur. I was very, very happy but my main aim was to try and get us in a good position to go into the afternoon but to get fifty on the way is a very special moment to me and I’ll remember this day for a long time.”

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England were clueless as Indian openers Smriti Mandhana and Verma scored a record-breaking partnership of 167 runs. But, after Verma’s fall in the 49th over England bowlers, especially the spinners, took charge and reduced India to 187 for five at the end of the day’s play.

“It has definitely been a crazy day today. Getting half-century on debut is definitely very special to me. And then going into fielding innings, Mandhana and Verma got a good partnership going and gave us a few chances at a time. But things didn’t really go our way and then we got the breakthrough. Relly exciting going in the evening and lot of momentum to go tomorrow morning with this as well.” Dunkley said.

It seemed like nothing much was happening for the hosts as India openers piled on the runs and the 17-year-old Verma compiled her T20I attacking instincts solid defense from time to time. Dunkley was all praise for the fellow debutante.

“She (Verma) played a few good shots and a played a really good inning. I think, we just fought hard and stuck in there and trusted our chances would come,” said the 22-year-old Dunkley.

“We did have a few early on close chances but (we) kept fighting and kept being ruthless and that really helped us to get through the end of the day.”

Sophie Eccelstone, who was tipped by her captain to make some impact on the turning Bristol pitch, proved yet again that she is one of the best bowlers in the world. The left-arm spinner got rid of India’s skipper Mithali Raj on the second delivery she faced.

“It’s tough, facing Sophie in the nets. She is always tricky and you always got to be on the top of your game. I think you can just tell when Soph is going to come on and make something happen and today she bowled well and she got us in the game. Kept the batters tight towards the end. I am definitely glad she is on my team,” Dunkley added.

England will start the third day as favourites with the visitors still trailing by 209 runs and needing 60 more runs to make the hosts bat again.

“I think, tomorrow (we will) take the momentum we have got this evening and just really attack the game hard. Just exciting that we had this afternoon of play and see where we get tomorrow,” Dunkley concluded.

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