England v India, 2nd women's Test, Taunton, 1st day August 29, 2006

Raj and Chopra dominate

India 168 for 2 (Raj 64*, Chopra 56*) v England
Scorecard



Mithali Raj drives during her half-century © Getty Images
This was an historic day for England women's cricket as Taunton was launched as the heart and home of the game. But it wasn't just England settling in: India made themselves right at home in the second and final Test, striking 168 for 2 on a truncated first day.

Rain washed out the morning session but when play finally got underway it was India who took charge, slowly but surely building themselves a solid platform on a sluggish pitch. It was hardly cricket to set the pulse racing, yet it was tidy enough.

Mithali Raj led from the front and she was unbeaten on 64 by stumps, having put on an unbroken stand of 128 with Anjum Chopra after the openers put on a steady 40. Raj's fifty came from 115 balls and included seven fours and there was a fifty too for Chopra - and both half-centuries were warmly cheered by a rightly appreciative crowd.

Chopra's fifty came up from 146 balls, with four fours. Together the indomitable pair took control, slowly at first, but by the close they were looking ever more ominous.

After being whitewashed in the one-dayers, India have come out fighting at Taunton and they are playing positive cricket. Another plus they can take from the day is that they look to have the makings of an opening pairing at last. They have spent this summer as codebreakers, testing out a myriad of combinations like an unbreakable safe.

But they may finally have cracked it: after hunting for a partner for Karu Jain, they put her with her fellow keeper Sulakshana Naik for the first time, and the pair added 38 for the first wicket. It wasn't the highest score, but the manner in which they batted together was reassuring.

Naik eventually fell for a solid 25, driving on the up, courtesy of a good catch snaffled at short extra by Sarah Taylor off the bowling of Beth Morgan. Jain followed shortly after, trapped lbw by Isa Guha, playing right across it, looking to hoick it to midwicket (40 for 2).

England's bowlers largely lacked penetration and there were few alarms, with Guha looking the most threatening.

But most threatening of all is the weather, and with more rain forecast for the rest of the week, this match is already showing signs of a draw.

Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo