Beaumont, Knight help set solid base for England by tea
Two fifty-plus partnerships from England’s top order shows gaps in India’s bowling plans
Tea England Women 166 for 2 (Knight 47*, Sciver 11*, Rana 1-33, Vastrakar 1-37 vs India Women
After lunch, 17-year-old Verma’s visible discomfort at slip as well at close-in positions had become a talking point as had India’s slow over-rate and the wearing down that the Beaumont-Knight partnership had subjected the Indian attack to. However, a low, diving catch off the disciplined offspiner Rana ended Beaumont’s stay in the 49th over.
Beaumont was the second wicket to fall on the day, having reached her fifty, her second in Tests, off 99 balls. Her six fours crowned an array of drives, sweeps, and behind-the-wickets strokes that often found India wanting in tactical nous when it came to field placements as well as in the variety among spinners.
Beaumont’s half-century stand with Knight and her opening partnership of 69 with opener Lauren Winfield-Hill were the first instances of fifty-plus stands for the first two wickets in a women’s Test innings since 1998. Both were pivotal to blunting the Indian attack on a pitch where the carry steadily lessened over the two sessions.
After sending down just 27 in the first session, India bowled only 28 after lunch, despite having two spinners in operation. Jhulan Goswami, the 38-year-old pacer did the bulk of the bowling, including 14 of the first 37 overs.
Ascendancy by way of wickets was hard to come by for the visitors. After Beaumont’s dismissal, the closest they got to creating a genuine chance was when Knight, on 26, slashed at a wide Shikha Pandey delivery, only for the ball to fly over Harmanpreet Kaur’s fingertips at gully. That aside, Knight was perturbed little and capitalised on offerings, carting seven fours as she neared fifty.
India could’ve had an early wicket, but missed out due to a drop at first slip. Winfield-Hill, eventually out for 35 in the 21st over, received a lifeline on 3 when Smriti Mandhana grassed a chance off Goswami.
Winfield-Hill’s two sixes were the first by an England batter in Tests since August 2006. The first one was off seamer Pandey, one of three seamers in a five-bowler Indian attack. A short ball was lifted by Winfield-Hill from outside off, and with extended arms cleared deep midwicket.
Then came another pick-up six, seemingly more effortless, decidedly more disdainful, in the 19th over off Pooja Vastrakar, one of five Indian debutants on the day, sailing over deep backward square while her partner Beaumont followed its trajectory. With both batters in their twenties by then, and England past 60 in 19 overs, the rotation of bowlers seemed to do little to wrest the momentum. Beaumont, for her part, occasionally resorted to the sweep and lap scoop – to varied success – against offspinner Rana.
England’s hold on the session seemed well in place until Vastarakar gave India the breakthrough. Angling one back in, Vastrakar induced an outside edge off Winfield-Hill’s drive to the keeper, removing her for 35.
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha