Tuesday, June 25, 2024

INDW v ENGW: Focus will be on bowlers on a flat and skiddy wicket for one-off Test

With skipper Harmanpreet Kaur declaring the pitch as ‘skiddy’, focus will be on the bowlers when India takes on England in the four-day one-off Women’s Test at the DY Patil Stadium here from Thursday.

While Harmanpreet reckoned that the pitch would not spin a lot and would rather help the pacers, England skipper Heather Knight concurred that would be a flat and skiddy pitch and said they are considering going into the Test with an extra bowler.

“When I last saw the pitch, they were going to shave it more. It might not turn more and will be skiddy even for the spinners. The spells from medium pacers will be very important,” said Harman in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

Though the 34-year-old off-spinner reckoned that spinners would not get a lot of assistance from the pitch, she said India had experienced bowlers who know how to gain advantage from such a surface.

“We have spinners who have experience in bowling on flat, skiddy surfaces. If we bowl positively and go with aggressive field placements, we can pick up wickets. As a batter, if you can get set, it will ease out but at the same time, if you attack with the ball it won’t be easy,” said the 34-year-old Harmanpreet who has the best figures by an Indian bowler at home as she had claimed 9/85 in two innings against South Africa when India last hosted a women’s Test in 2014.

Heather Knight expects the wicket to skid and also help the spinners. Said though the surface and conditions will have a bearing on the playing XI though they would like to go in with their best possible side.

“we’re certainly excited to face the challenge and see how the pitch plays and what it’s like playing Test Cricket in India,” said the England skipper.

Harmanpreet said the wicket will not have much bearing on their final combination. She expects that would be enough for everyone in the pitch at the DY Patil Stadium.

“It is a four-day game, so even if you have to bowl for two days, you have to look at who can bowl for two days and who are those batters who can bat for long. We have to make combinations accordingly.

“If we look at the pitch and decide the combination, it will be different but if we look at our strengths, it will be a different combination. I would like to go with our strengths,” the India skipper said.

Though India will be playing the first Test match without the towering Jhulan Goswami running in and letting the ball rip, Harmanpreet has some very good bowlers at her disposal, though they are short on experience in red-ball cricket.

Pacers Pooja Vastrakar and Meghna Singh were part of the playing XI in India’s last Test against Australia at Carrara while either Renuka Singh Thakur or Titas Sadhu will make their debut if India decides to go with a three-pronged pace attack.

Deepti Sharma and Sneha Rana are the two most experienced off-spinners besides Harmanpreet in the squad while in Rajeshwari Gayakwad, India has one of the world’s best left-arm spinners who has played all three formats.

On their part England have one of the most experienced Test players in Heather Knight, who has scored 750 runs at an average of 48.90 in 10 matches while Tammy Beaumont is coming into Thursday’s match with a double-century in the last match.

They have good spinners in Charlie Dean (off-spinner) and left-armers Sophie Ecclestone and Kirstie Gordon. In Kate Cross, they have an experienced pacer who has taken 24 wickets so far.

India does have an edge in recent form as they have won three and drawn two of their last five matches while England have four draws and a loss in the last five.

However, India’s five Test matches are spread from 2005 to 2021 while England’s have come between 2019 and 2023.

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