IND vs ENG women’s Test – Heather Knight calls conditions at DY Patil ‘extreme’

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England captain Heather Knight called the conditions for the one-off women’s Test against India “extreme” and said she “would be surprised” if they get those in the T20 World Cup 2024 in Bangladesh and the ODI World Cup 2025 in India.

“These conditions were really extreme; we have never seen that sort of spin before, that sort of dryness in the pitch,” Knight said after England’s record 347-run loss at the DY Patil Stadium. “In the main formats we play – T20 and 50 overs – we are not going to get as much [turn] as that.

“Previously our issues against spin have been more [around] the ball not spinning. You’d look at the wickets Ash Gardner took in the Ashes, there weren’t many that spun. My dismissal that spun but a lot was outside edge and balls that didn’t spin.

“These conditions were extreme, and I’d be surprised if we face those again unless we play another Test in India in the near future, which I am not sure is in the plan. We want to get better in conditions we might face in Bangladesh. Spin does dominate in the women’s game, and if we can improve that it will give us a big advantage.”

Opting to bat first, India posted 428 – they were 410 for 7 on day one scoring at more than four an over – with four batters scoring half-centuries. But when England batted in the afternoon, they lost 7 for 28 with offspinner Deepti Sharma picking up 5 for 7 in just 5.3 overs. England were bowled out for 136 and 131.

“[The pitch] probably deteriorated a bit faster than we expected,” she said. “[It was] reasonably good in the first innings to bat on. The spin was quite extreme. We bowled pretty well on the first day with two wickets. A few nicks that did not carry, that can be soul-destroying for some of those fast bowlers when your best ball doesn’t carry to slips.

“We identified that the wobble ball was really effective and tried to get as much out of that as we can. It seamed a little bit more because the pitch deteriorated and when it spins it does seam a little bit as well.”

“The offspinners for both teams felt more threatening because there was a lot more deterioration of the pitch. The left-armers to right handers had to bowl more in the less trafficked areas, so it was harder to get sharp spin.”

Heather Knight

Deepti picked up nine wickets in the match – her four-for following her five-wicket haul in the first innings – to go with her half-century. On the contrary, England’s prime spinner Sophie Ecclestone had an off game and picked up only five wickets across the innings.

Knight said that the rough patch outside the right-handers’ off made it a tad easier for offspinners – England’s Charlie Dean picked up four wickets in the second innings – which was not the case for left-arm spinners to right-handers. India’s Rajeshwari Gayakwad also returned only two wickets and bowled just 11.3 overs in the match.

“The way Deepti bowled, she was very threatening,” she said. “The offspinners for both teams felt more threatening because there was a lot more deterioration of the pitch. The left-armers to right handers had to bowl more in the less trafficked areas, so it was harder to get sharp spin. She bowled well and a very attacking line and made it very attacking line and made it tricky for us.

“Sophie is coming back from a surgery and the expectation on her is so high. She is so brilliant, she is the best spinner in the world. The expectation from our side and also from herself – she puts a lot of expectation on herself – which is why she is so good. It was hard for her.

“When she was bowling to the right-handers, she was bowling on the best part of the pitch that hasn’t had a lot of traffic on. The threat was more to the left-arm spinners to the left-handers, which she bowled very well to.”

Happy with how the T20 side is shaping, says Knight

England had won the T20I series 2-1 before a two-day turnaround for the Test match. They won the first and second matches before being undone by spin in the final T20I. Knight said the exposure young batters in the side got would keep them in good stead ahead of the T20 World Cup next year in Bangladesh.

“The T20 World Cup in Bangladesh is the big focus for us,” she said. “The way we played the first two T20Is, the first in particular, was brilliant for us. The T20 side is coming together for us very well. The last T20I we exposed some young players to those conditions, having won the series and with the Test match coming up.

“For the younger players to play in these conditions, but also being in India, it is a different place to tour. You have more time in hotels. The humidity [can get to you]. It’s a good place to learn. T20 World Cup in Bangladesh is the next time we get a chance to play in these conditions.”

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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