England Women turn screw with follow-on but Shafali Verma leads India fightback

Shafali Verma again showcased her quality with the bat after England enforced the follow on, with India finishing the day 83 for one on a rain-affected day three of the women’s Test at Bristol.

Verma looked comfortable at the crease, despite the wind, rain and overcast conditions for the England seam bowlers, striking the ball cleanly during her 55, which included 11 fours from 68 balls.

The day’s play was abandoned just before 5.30pm with no play possible since the tea break.

Before the delays, England had started the third day in the same way they finished the second, taking five cheap wickets to bowl India out for 231 as the tourists were forced to follow on.

Sophie Ecclestone claimed the first three wickets to fall on Friday morning as India, who had been 167 without loss at one stage on day two, were dismissed before lunch at the Bristol County Ground.

The first two were both lbw, including a player review, as India slumped to 187 for seven without having added to their overnight total.

Heather Knight had taken two for one from six overs the night before, but it was the world’s number one T20 spinner who did the damage inside the opening 40 minutes this morning to send back Harmanpreet Kaur, Taniya Bhatia and Sneh Rana to finish with figures of four for 88.

Sophie Ecclestone, centre left, appeals for the wicket of Harmanpreet Kaur
Sophie Ecclestone, centre left, appeals for the wicket of Harmanpreet Kaur (Zac Goodwin/PA)

England also struck immediately with the new ball, Katherine Brunt claiming the wicket of Pooja Vastrakar for 12 with a good delivery that just clipped the bails.

Anya Shrubsole then took the final wicket of the innings, bowling Jhulan Goswami, before Knight enforced the follow on with India 165 runs behind.

Verma, who made 96 in the first innings, again looked to dominate at the start of the second and stroked the experienced Brunt and Shrubsole around the ground to reach 20 before lunch.

In the final over before the break, Smriti Mandhana edged Brunt to Nat Sciver at second slip to see India go into the break 29 for one, 136 behind.

Verma was on 41 when she offered up the first half-chance of her innings when she edged behind off Kate Cross, but neither wicketkeeper Amy Jones nor first slip were able to get a hand to it.

The period after lunch was dominated by rain delays but Verma managed to demonstrate her class, playing the England seamers with ease to reach her second half-century of the game.

England took no more wickets after the lunch break, with India 83 for one at tea before the rain came down once more and play was halted for good.