Home NEWS India vs England One-Off Test: Pooja Vastrakar delivers the telling blows on...

India vs England One-Off Test: Pooja Vastrakar delivers the telling blows on Day 3 as Harmanpreet Kaur & Co register record-breaking win | Cricket News

In the pre-match press conferences, captains Heather Knight and Harmanpreet Kaur both advocated playing for the win within four days, with England’s captain saying there might be a need to perhaps artificially force the pace to ensure that yet another women’s Test doesn’t end in a draw. And so, before play began on Day 3, it was interesting that Harmanpreet chose to declare India’s second innings overnight despite being on the cusp of a half-century herself. There was plenty of time still left in the match but the Indian captain felt making use of whatever early morning assistance was there on the pitch to force a win, was more crucial than a first Test fifty or century for herself.

As it turned out, after lasting 35.3 overs in the first innings for 136, England folded within 27.3 overs for 131 in their second outing as India posted a record-breaking win in the one-off Test on Saturday at the DY Patil Stadium. India’s win margin of 347 runs was the biggest ever in the history of women’s Test cricket at the completion of a fourth innings in the match; such was their dominance. “Everything went according to our plan, every member of the team was looking at how we can win every moment,” Harmanpreet Kaur would say after the win was wrapped up within one session on the third day, the pride evident in her voice.

“The first 40 minutes were very crucial and as a team, we thought if we can get 3-4 wickets, we can put England under pressure and that can help us win the game. I know I’ll get more opportunities to score half-centuries and centuries in the future but winning the game was very important,” the Indian captain, leading the country for the first time in Tests, added.

It personified what India’s attitude had been like from the first ball of this match to the end. There was the right amount of attacking intent with the bat in the first innings after winning the toss, posting 410 on the opening day, without ever being reckless. The bowling was relentlessly accurate in both innings, and the fielding backed it up in crucial moments.

For a team that was playing a Test after two years, and one at home for the first time in 9 years, they didn’t miss a beat.

Pooja Vastrakar stars

The morning began with England seemingly taking a leaf out of India’s book, trying to keep up a good tempo of scoring for the first half hour. The first breakthrough for India was a thing of beauty. Renuka Singh Thakur has been tremendous since her comeback from injury and has consistently provided early wickets. Today it was Tammy Beaumont’s turn to be bowled as the Indian pacer delivered a series of in-dippers that tested the inside edge before a lovely leg cutter from wide of the crease went past the prod to knock down the off stump.

Festive offer

England’s chances of making this somewhat of a contest largely depended on Heather Knight and Nat Sciver-Brunt. Enter, Pooja Vastrakar. The seam-bowling all-rounder has been hot and cold in recent times, but she stepped up on Saturday to bowl what would turn out to be the match-winning spell.

Her first wicket was an innocuous length ball outside off that Sophia Dunkley cut straight to gully. But the next two, to dismiss England’s mainstays, were remarkable deliveries.

Sciver-Brunt tends to start her innings like she has already been batting for a while, but she got a peach first up. The ball landed on a good length outside off stump and nipped back in to stun the batter who ended up defending outside the line. The result was a dream sight for any pacer: to see the off stump go cartwheeling. One of the best batters in the business was done in by a peach for the second time in two days.

Then, much like Renuka’s set-up of Beaumont, Vastrakar got Knight with one that held its line after shaping a few in. The outside edge carried to the keeper. With her three-for, Vastrakar broke the back of England’s batting and from there it was a matter of how quickly England would be bowled out.

‘India were outstanding’

The answer would be less than an hour from then as England lost the next six wickets for 63 runs in 57 minutes. Deepti Sharma, player of the match without a doubt, came into the attack and added four more wickets to her name. Rajeshwari Gayakwad, who had to wait a long time for her first wicket in the match, picked up the final one to fall as well, as India celebrated a superb win.

“Well, India played outstandingly,” was Knight’s summation of how the last two and a half days went. “They deserve a lot of credit for that. Made it really tough for us today. The way they batted in the first innings balancing attack and defence is something we can learn a lot from. If there was another Test here, I feel we’d be better placed. The main thing is credit to how they played, India bowled better today than they even did in the first innings. Pooja was particularly good at finding that seam movement.”

One thing to note is that this Test match doesn’t just have to be a win-and-done for India. Rarely do women’s teams play back-to-back Tests and Harmanpreet & Co have some momentum to take into the match against Australia coming up. “We have back-to-back Test matches for the first time, as we are playing Australia soon. I am sure a lot of players will derive confidence out of this, we are looking forward to that,” coach Amol Muzumdar said.

This win will mean just that little bit more if it gives them a head start against the world’s best.

Source link