Shafali Verma
Shafali Verma

New Delhi, June 19: It was after a period of seven years that the Indian women's cricket team got a chance to play Test cricket. Even though the Indian team didn't perform well but the 17-year-old debutant Shafali Verma has impressed one and all. She has done what hasn't happened in the history of women's Test cricket till date. Shafali Verma on Saturday became the first women cricketer in history to hit three sixes in a Test match.

Earlier on Friday, Shafali became the youngest woman, and the fourth overall, to score twin half-centuries in her debut Test match. She reached the milestone against England at Bristol in the ongoing one-off Test. The record was previously held by Australia's Jessica Louise Jonassen, who was 22 when she scored fifties in both innings of her debut Test match. She too achieved the landmark against England. There are only two others apart from Shafali and Jonassen Sri Lanka's Vanessa Bowen and England's Lesley Cooke are the other two batters to have scored two half-centuries in their debut Test.

Meanwhile, India batter Smriti Mandhana, who had slammed a patient 78 in the first innings against the England women's team in the one-off Test here, said her players need more Test exposure to forge a better understanding among themselves in the closing stages of every session.

India, which had got off to a strong start with a 167-run stand between Shafali Verma (96) and Smriti Mandhana (78), lost track late on the second day on Thursday as they lost five wickets for 16 runs to finish the day at 187 for five. The team finally folded up for 231 in the first innings and England enforced the follow-on.

"We can consider for sure that we aren't used to batting beyond 50 overs that much. But I wouldn't say I got out because of lack of experience in Test matches because I threw my wicket away in the last session of yesterday (Thursday)," Smriti told ESPNcricinfo at the end of the third day's play on Friday, when India were 83/1 in the second innings with Shafali Verma batting on 55.

"But, definitely, I think a slight pressure of ending the day being not out, that might play a bit of a part (in the loss of wickets in a heap) and that will come with experience. The more we play Test matches, the more we'll get used to the conditions -- one over before lunch or one over before the day's end and all those sessions, so we can be more mature about (approaching them) and not take pressure," said Smriti.

On young Shafali's showing in the Test -- she scored 96 in the first innings and is unbeaten on 55 in the second -- Smriti said, "It's quite impressive to watch her bat from the other end. I think we both are very similar (in our approach) to keep things simple, so we don't really discuss much about batting in the middle.

"The way she changed her game and the kind of maturity she showed at this stage of her career, it's very positive for Indian cricket going forward. Her shots, in T20Is I've always watched them from the other end. It's amazing what she does. I hope she keeps going the way she is."

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal