Knight hits 95 but India fight back – Asia Despatch

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England 269-6: Knight 95, Beaumont 66, Rana 3-77
India: Yet to bat

England suffered a late collapse against India after a sterling 95 from captain Heather Knight on a fluctuating first day of the one-off Test in Bristol.

The hosts slipped from 230-2 to 251-6, losing four wickets for 21 runs on a turning pitch before reaching 269-6 at the close.

Knight, in her 100th match as England captain, was distraught to fall five runs short of a century after watching Nat Sciver and Amy Jones be dismissed in quick succession by a rejuvenated India.

India acquitted themselves well in their first Test for six years, with off-spinner Sneh Rana taking 3-77 and Deepti Sharma 2-50.

After the criticism of the Test being played on a used pitch, the opening day had a bit of everything – runs for the batters and turn later in the day for the India spinners.

Tammy Beamount’s 66 and a positive 35 from Lauren Winfield-Hill helped England make a strong start, but India fought hard to check their progress.

However, with a mixed forecast for the remaining three days, England will know they need to make the best use of a pitch that will only deteriorate.

India hit back on absorbing day

For much of the day, England played positive cricket, with the batters jumping on poor deliveries and keeping the tempo of the match ticking along.

But it is to India’s credit that after a chastening afternoon session, which saw a weary fielding unit trudge off the field, they regrouped, making inroads almost immediately after tea.

Sciver and Knight, England’s most consistent all-format players, shared a 90-run stand before Sciver was trapped lbw by a full delivery from Sharma.

Wicketkeeper Jones, who has impressed in domestic cricket this summer, was also pinned lbw by Rana before Knight, on the brink of her second Test century, went deep into her crease to Sharma and was also trapped in front.

After Georgia Elwiss was caught at first slip by a diving, tumbling Mithali Raj, it was down to debutant Sophia Dunkley, the first black woman to represent England in Test cricket, to guide them to the close without any further damage.

India could have made inroads earlier. Sciver should have been caught at mid-wicket on 34 but was dropped by Sharma, while Smriti Mandhana was guilty of a poor drop at first slip to reprieve opener Winfield-Hill.

India did, however, finish the day strongly, which will give them confidence for the next three days.

More to follow.

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