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India Women gear up for the red ball challenge with Tests against England & Australia in December

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

India Women to play Tests against England & Australia Women in December and Harmanpreet Kaur to captain. What to expect from the series?

Harmanpreet Kaur to captain India against Australia in Test match | Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©X_Twitter)
Harmanpreet Kaur to captain India in Tests (Photo: ©X/Twitter)

The India women’s cricket team is poised to re-enter the realm of Test cricket after a hiatus of over two years, engaging in two home Test matches against England and Australia. The cricketing action is scheduled to commence on December 14 in Navi Mumbai against England and continues from December 21 in Mumbai against Australia.

The absence of home Test matches has been a notable void in India's women's cricket calendar since their last encounter with South Africa in November 2014. The format made a brief reappearance in September 2021 during a historic Pink-ball Test against Australia at Gold Coast. Under the captaincy of the legendary Mithali Raj, the match concluded in a draw, with Smriti Mandhana's impressive century leading India's batting charge. The preceding home Test against South Africa had seen India emerge victorious by an innings and 34 runs.

While the upcoming Test matches are eagerly anticipated, voices within the cricketing community, both past and present players, echo the sentiment that a solitary Test after such an extended hiatus is insufficient to cultivate widespread popularity for the format in women’s cricket. Former India captain Anjum Chopra advocates for the reintroduction of the red-ball format in the women’s domestic circuit, envisioning its potential to elevate the competitiveness of Indian women’s cricket on the global stage.

Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur underscores the importance of red-ball cricket

India’s current skipper, Harmanpreet Kaur, emphasizes the importance of more international and domestic red-ball fixtures. Expressing her excitement for the upcoming Test matches, Kaur reveals that playing in front of a home crowd holds special significance, especially considering the extended gap since 2014. However, she acknowledges the challenge posed by the transition from playing predominantly with the white ball to adapting to the nuances of red-ball cricket, a format not regularly featured in domestic cricket.

Harmanpreet Kaur, who recently participated in the Women’s Big Bash League 2023 for the Melbourne Renegades, underscores the need for dedicated red-ball practice to overcome the considerable differences between formats. England, having played more regularly than India in the last decade with nine Tests under their belt, will present a formidable challenge for the Indian team.

The one-off home Test matches against England and Australia serve as significant opportunities for young girls to witness and engage closely with this format of cricket. Women’s Test cricket, once considered endangered, has seen recent efforts to revive and develop the format. However, there remains a need to expand participation globally to ensure the sustained growth of the game at the international level.

While these encounters offer players a chance to assert their suitability for regular Test matches, the prevailing sentiment is that a solitary Test is insufficient. The development of women’s cricket necessitates the involvement of more nations in the longer format at regular intervals. The limited number of nations currently participating in women’s Test cricket underscores the need for expansion to fortify the sport's international stature.

In conclusion, the return of Test cricket for the Indian women’s team against England and Australia holds promise, yet the sport demands more sustained involvement to flourish. Playing one Test match after a prolonged gap serves as a catalyst, emphasizing the urgency for more red-ball cricket at both domestic and international levels. As the cricketing fraternity eagerly anticipates these encounters, the hope is that they mark the beginning of a more regular and expansive engagement with the longer format, ensuring the enduring vibrancy of women’s cricket on the global stage.

India's squad for Tests against England & Australia: Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Richa Ghosh (wk), Sneh Rana, Shubha Satheesh, Harleen Deol, Saika Ishaque, Renuka Singh Thakur, Titas Sadhu, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Pooja Vastrakar.

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