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Thursday, July 1, 2021

Indian Women set to play a test at Bristol - a Test after 7 years !

Remember that 3 day Test in Nov 1976 at Chepauk – a drawn match – Captain Shantha Rangaswami dazzled with the bat.   Earlier on Oct 31, 1976, Indian Women played WI Women in the first ever test for India at Bangalore and it was test no. 52 !

In a few more days, India is set to play New Zealand in World Test Championship Finals at Southampton on June 18, 2021.  .. .. and Indian women too are set to play a test on 16th June at Bristol.   The first women's Test was played between England and Australia in 1934.  However, India did not play Test cricket until 1973 when the Women's Cricket Association of India was formed. The Indian women's team played their first Test match in 1976, against the West Indies at Bangalore.  India has thus far played 36 Tests, - heir most recent one  was in 2014!  They first won a Test in Patna (1976), in front of over 25,000 spectators, against the West Indies but did not win again until 2002, when they won against South Africa.  They won at 2014 in England beating the hosts !

At Bengaluru in 1976 debuted : Behroze Edulji, Diana Edulji, Fowzieh Khalili (wk), Sandhya Mazumdar, Shantha Rangaswamy ©, Sharmila Chakraborty, Shobha Pandit, Shubhangi Kulkarni, Sudha Shah, Susan Itticheria & Ujwala Nikam

Happy days are back again for the Indian Women’s team as they revelled in their new jersies and posted on social media.  The aim is to "leave the jersey in a better place," Jemimah Rodrigues wrote on Twitter after receiving her Test whites from Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami. She wasn't the only India Women player to celebrate. After all, it's a rare opportunity for the team - a Test match, something that had appeared a thing of the past till the other day. Since their innings win over South Africa at home in Mysuru in November 2014, the team hasn't played any Tests - no team has, apart from Australia and England. "From the players' perspective, it's just an occasion to make them feel very special about the white jersey or getting into a format which I personally fell is the most challenging, respected and oldest format,"  Mithali Raj said at the team's pre-departure press conference. "It has its own charm. When the girls who are getting into the team playing that format for the first time, it's very special for them.

Jhulan Goswami  welcomed the announcement of a Test match for India Women, during their tour of England and thanked the BCCI for realising "that this format is also important for us".  "Everyone is very excited. We played a Test match last, against South Africa in Mysore in 2014, and after six [seven] years we are going to play a Test against England," Goswami said at a press conference  after picking up 4 for 42 to lead India to a win in the second ODI against South Africa Women in Lucknow. "We are all excited because Test cricket or days' match is one thing you, as a cricketer, wanted to play, wanted to go out there and perform well. It involves a lot of challenge - from your mental strength to your physical strength. The game changes every session." The only active Indian player apart from Mithali Raj to have played ten or more Tests, Goswami was part of the team that defeated England by six wickets in the last contest between the two sides in the longest format, in August 2014.

 Jhulan Goswami, Smriti Mandhana in middle & Mithali Raj

The team is strengthened by Support staff – unfortunately WV Raman is no longer at the helm, having been replaced back by Ramesh Powar as Coach.  Shiv Sunder Das, the former India men's Test opener, is  the batting coach while Abhay Sharma is the  fielding coach.  "This is the first time I have been assigned a job with the India women's national team, so it's a quite exciting time for me," said Das.  I've toured England as a player and played a lot of league cricket. Conditions-wise I'm a bit familiar, so it will be nice to add value to the team. My focus is only on the England tour as of now because I've come in for the England tour.  The tenure of the rest of the support staff, where Tracy Fernandes has been retained as physio, remains unclear. The nine-member support staff  includes trainer R Naresh, performance analyst Sandeep Raju, and masseuse Neerja Desai.  

India's fixtures in England include a one-off Test that begins on June 16 in Bristol and three ODIs and three T20Is, the tour-ender scheduled for July 15. That sounds exciting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
4th June 2021.


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