52nd over: England 151-2 (Knight 37, Sciver 10) Jhulan Goswami strides in, quite the sight with her kabuki make-up in the form of sunscreen, but Sciver is the one ready to play the part. Sees the ball a touch short, up around waist height, and this time pummels the pull shot to the rope. Goswami goes a bit wider but doesn’t correct her length, and Sciver cuts this time through cover point! Two in a row.
51st over: England 143-2 (Knight 37, Sciver 2) Rana errs twice in her over and England profit by a single each time. Too straight and Knight works through square leg, too short and Sciver is able to pull, lustily, but there’s a boundary rider in the deep in front of square.
50th over: England 141-2 (Knight 36, Sciver 1) Goswami back on with the fall of the wicket, and she sets up a steady line outside off stump to see whether Sciver will do anything daft. Sciver politely declines.
49th over: England 141-2 (Knight 36, Sciver 1) So the wicket falls from the first ball. Looking at the replays, it’s a miracle that Shafali was able to take that catch. Technique at bat-pad needs some work. She’s standing almost completely upright as the bat meets ball, and her hands are cupped but are up near her chin. Like she’s expecting to catch a full-blooded pull shot rather than an inside edge. From that position her weight is back on her heels, and she had to lunge forward and low to get under that ball, right down at grass level. Has to stay down with the ball when catching there. Keeping an eye on it through the over, she’s doing the same thing to subsequent balls. Surely someone in the dressing room has to spot that? Or nearby on the field?
Sciver gets off the mark with a gentle cut shot.
This time Shafali comes good! The exact same situation as in Rana’s previous over. Beaumont down the wicket again, not to the pitch again. Too much bounce takes the splice of the bat. Shafali has moved, or been moved, a tiny bit squarer at short leg. The inside edge from pad dies in front of her, lobbing short, but she’s awake to it, diving forward, landing on her stomach, and just getting fingertips of one hand under the ball before it lands. Excellent catch, and quality bowling from Rana to twice do Beaumont in flight.
48th over: England 140-1 (Knight 36, Beaumont 66) Vastrakar carries on with that full length, everything at the stumps. Keeps a modicum of jeopardy in the game, but you wonder whether it’s too predictable for Knight. Camped on the front foot, the England captain doesn’t miss out when Vastrakar slips up with a full toss, placed through the covers for four.
47th over: England 136-1 (Knight 32, Beaumont 66) Rana nearly sneaks an off-break through onto Beaumont’s pad, burrowing in but taking the inside edge. Floats her next ball more and lands it wider, keeping some variety going. Advances as in the last over Beaumont, and nearly caught at short leg! She was done by dip, not to the length of that ball at all. It takes an inside edge and Shafali Verma under the lid just doesn’t move. Might have got to that with a dive as it lobbed square of her position, but she wasn’t alive to it.
46th over: England 134-1 (Knight 31, Beaumont 65) Very consistent over from Vastrakar, making Knight play at every ball, hitting everything to the off side. No run.
45th over: England 134-1 (Knight 31, Beaumont 65) Sneh Rana with the ball now, the off-spinner replacing one of the seamers. She has a beatific approach to the crease, Rana, walking in with hands clasped against her chest in supplicatory fashion. She might be praying for help, too, as Beaumont skips down the pitch and slots her through midwicket for four. This after Knight took a single off her pads.
44th over: England 129-1 (Knight 30, Beaumont 61) Pooja Vastrakar joins in for seam from both ends, and she’s concentrating on a full length at the stumps. A couple of scrambled-seam deliveries in there, just making Beaumont play at each ball. Which she does, circumspectly, no run from the over.
43rd over: England 129-1 (Knight 30, Beaumont 61) Thanks Tanya. Shikha Pandey has the ball after drinks, and lands it nicely back of a length and bang on the off-stump line. “Arrey, shabash!” is the call from the keeper. Fuller with the second ball, then wider with the third and it’s edge over gully! Knight plays a big botom-handed cover drive, Harmanpreet gets elevation but can’t get fingertips to the ball. Pandey follows up by attacking the pads, drawing another very bottom-handed shot, shovelled to midwicket.
42nd over: England 125-1 (Knight 26, Beaumont 61) Knight, with her wobbly backlift, brings up the fifty partnership with a very late cut through backward point. She and Beaumont pluck another three from Rana, and that’s DRINKS! Thanks for your emails, I’ll leave you in the supremely capable hands of Geoff Lemon. Bye!
41st over: England 117-1 (Knight 20, Beaumont 59) Knight is surprised by some bounce from Pandey and fends the ball down off the back foot. A maiden, good, sharp, stuff.
39th over: England 116-1 (Knight 19, Beaumont 59) Pandey is accurate, Beaumont edges, but just short of slip. Then, off the last ball, a glorious cover-drive. On the radio, they’re discussing that all the batters in the England side are right-handed but India have not played anyone to turn the ball away, no place for leggie Yadav.
38th over: England 112-1 (Knight 19, Beaumont 55) And Goswami gets a rest, slurping a drink down on the boundary. The 38 year old is replaced with a 27 year old, Rana, whose approach to the crease is a three step walk before a quick shuffle. A maiden.
37th over: England 112-1 (Knight 19, Beaumont 55) Pandey, short stepped approach, is back. A fair gathering watch from the flats surrounding the ground, an Indian flag on show. Beaumont picks off a couple with a sharp clip behind square.
36th over: England 110-1 (Knight 19, Beaumont 53) Bhatia temporarily removes her cap to reveal a fantastic scarlet bandana Goswani again, sending them down about 65mph, she polishes the ball on her upper thigh and sets off. Just one from an immaculate over.
35th over: England 109-1 (Knight 19, Beaumont 52) The Indian fielding is suddenly sprightly and you sense a little frustration sitting with England, but no sooner do I type that than Knight gets low on her front knee and sweeps Sharma beautifully in front of square for four.
34th over: England 104-1 (Knight 15, Beaumont 51) We see Goswami’s approach in slow motion, the slow bend at the top of the run, a respectful bow and…oooh that’s nice from Knight who, with minimum effort, guides the ball past backward point to the boundary.
33rd over: England 98-1 (Knight 9, Beaumont 51) Sharma nearly breaks through Beaumont’s defences, who edges onto the top of her boot. Nice over, a maiden, with a smart bit of fielding at point cutting off easy runs. Better from the Indians.
32nd over: England 98-1 (Knight 9, Beaumont 51) Beaumont and Knight are watchful, this Goswami knows what she’s doing.
31st over: England 97-1 (Knight 9, Beaumont 50) Beaumont creeps towards fifty, with a single off Sharma. Knight sweeps to hand her back the strike, before she sweeps in turn, and raises her bat! Her second in Test cricket, off 99 balls. She and Knight exchange a firm handshake.
The rest of the Indian squad are sitting having a very good laugh on chairs situated around the boundary.
30th over: England 94-1 (Knight 8, Beaumont 48) Goswami, high elbowed run, pounds in. Beaumont tries to cut but the ball skiddles low through to Bhatia. Not happy news for the seamers. Beaumont can’t pierce the field until the last ball when she tips Goswami into the covers . Goswami has already bowled 11 overs.
29th over: England 90-1 (Knight 8, Beaumont 47) Sharma again, after that promising over just before lunch. A looping full first ball almost gets through Beaumont’s defences. Beaumont tries to paddle sweep her second but it doesn’t look comfortable. Another good over, three from it.
28th over: England 90-1 (Knight 8, Beaumont 44) The first ball after lunch from Goswami is a cracker, drawing Knight into a shot as it skittles past her outside edge. Again Knight drives and the ball moves slowly past mid-off but the fielders are sleepy and England take two. A squarer drive, better timed, for two more. Raj and Goswami chew the fat.
The players resume after lunch, India from their huddle, the batters from their chairs. Goswani is down on her haunches, strecthing those long legs. Sky blue, sketches of cloud: play!
An intriguing first session, with England on top thanks to judicious choice of strokeplay, tucking in to the bad balls, watchful of the good. A super little innings by Wingfield-Hill and fabulous by Beaumont, who, in a passing aside as she walked in for lunch, said the pitch was nice to bat on. Time to grab a sandwich, back shortly!
27th over: England 86-1 (Knight 4, Beaumont 44) Aha! And we see Deepti Sharma for the first time, resplendent in her sunglasses.. Bhatia is helmeted and up to the stumps. Beaumont is watchful, striding forward to dull the spin, ignoring the temptation of looping offbreaks. Oooof! The fifth ball spins and slides past the gap between Beaumont’s bat and pad and Bhatia too. A promising first over and that is LUNCH!
26th over: England 84-1 (Knight 4, Beaumont 44) Goswami bowls the penultimate over before lunch, her suncream paint still largely intact, a spring still in her looping step. Just a single from the over.
25th over: England 83-1 (Knight 4, Beaumont 43) Heather Knight, off the mark with a one-kneed Jessica Rabbit of a cover-drive. Delicious.
24th over: England 79-1 (Knight 0, Beaumont 43) Beaumont making the most of a loose ball, as England have done all morning, pulls Goswami dismissively to the boundary. Goswami, anguished, oh so anguished, pegs her down for the remaining four balls of the over. Beaumont is batting a shuffle step out of her crease.
23rd over: England 75-1 (Knight 0, Beaumont 39) The pup gets up from her resting place behind the sofa, and stretches, just in time to see Beaumont, glorious high backlift slicing down onto a Vastrakar half volley, past mid-off for four. Gorgeous shot. Interesting from Ebony R-B on commentary, who says that Beaumont, who was always small after suffering from lots of food allergies when younger, developed her high backlift almost as armour against her size.
22nd over: England 70-1 (Knight 0, Beaumont 34) Knight gets her eye in and watchfully plays out four balls of a Rana over.
21st over: England 69-1 (Knight 0, Beaumont 33) A wicket maiden for Vastrakar. A sweet little cameo for Winfield-Hill, but she couldn’t make the most of her escape after being dropped on three. India neeeded that wicket with 20 minutes left till lunch.
A super diving catch by Bhatia ends a fabulous little knock by Winfield-Hill, having a fish outside off stump, though she looked as if she would go on to better things. A first Test wicket for Vastrakar.
20th over: England 69-0 (Winfield-Hill 35, Beaumont 33) No real danger from Rana’s over.
I don’t want to compare men’s and women’s cricket, a wholly pointless exercise but, just out of interest, can anyone remember the last time England male openers hit two sixes (with power to add) in the first morning of a Test?
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