Shafali illuminates women's Test on debut

India's Smriti Mandhana (l) and the brilliant Shafali Verma bump fists during their century stand.
India's Smriti Mandhana (l) and the brilliant Shafali Verma bump fists during their century stand.

Indian teenager Shafali Verma has made a glorious Test debut, just missing out on a dazzling century, but England's women were well on top after day two of their one-off match at Bristol.

A late flurry of wickets - five for just 16 runs in the final 45 minutes on Thursday - saw England, who'd earlier declared at 9-396, end the day with a 209-run lead after they reduced India to 5-187 at stumps.

But 17-year-old Shafali lit up the day, and was within a shot of a momentous century when she mistimed a drive over the top and picked out Anya Shrubsole at mid-off for 96 on her Test debut.

The youngster was the first of the five wickets to fall as an Indian collapse began after she'd put on 167 for the first wicket with Smriti Mandhana.

Sophia Dunkley, who became the first black woman to play Test cricket for England on the opening day, had earlier brought up her half-century in the morning session, and was 74 not out when Heather Knight declared in the afternoon.

The 22-year-old had been dropped on 27 and successfully overturned an lbw decision on 46, before bringing up her maiden Test fifty just before lunch.

After an entertaining innings from Shrubsole, who added 47 from 33 deliveries including an over from Sneh Rana which went for 18, Knight declared with England just short of the 400 milestone.

When India batted, Shafali was the standout, her 96 coming from 152 deliveries, including 13 fours and two impressive sixes before she was caught off the bowling of Kate Cross.

The youngster was first called up to the India squad aged 15, but this was her first chance to face the red ball having been just 10 years old when her country played their last Test match.

India's other opener Mandhana looked composed for her 78 from 155, before being caught by Katherine Brunt in similar fashion to Shafali, from the bowling of Nat Sciver.

But just as India looked to be settling into a rhythm, England finished with a flourish, with captain Knight claiming two wickets for only one run from six impressive overs.

It was a crucial late fightback for England as India had looked comfortable going into the final hour of the day.

Just before the close of play, Knight caught and bowled Shikha Pandey before a clever catch from Tammy Beaumont from Ecclestone's bowling dismissed India captain Mithali Raj for just two, after a successful England review.

The hosts then claimed their final wicket of the day when Punam Raut was trapped lbw by the England captain.

Australian Associated Press