Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo
India 83 for 1 (Verma 55*, Sharma 18*) and 231 (Verma 96, Mandhana 78, Ecclestone 4-88, Knight 2-7) trail England 396 for 9 dec. (Knight 95, Dunkley 74*, Beaumont 66, Rana 4-131, Sharma 3-65) by 82 runs
A second half-century in as many innings from teenager Shafali Verma kept India clinging on during a rain-interrupted third day of their one-off Test against England in Bristol.
Early tea was taken when the rain that had threatened throughout to set in eventually did and play was abandoned for the day at 5.30pm local time. India, following on, were 83 for 1 in their second innings, a deficit of 82 runs. Verma remained unbeaten on 55 and Deepti Sharma was not out on 18.
Verma, the 17-year-old debutant who had fallen just four runs shy of a century in the first innings, showed impeccable timing in racking up 20 runs - all in boundaries - from just 14 balls to the lunch break. She nailed fours through midwicket and mid-off before two exquisitely effortless drives pierced the covers, and she clipped her fifth neatly off the pads to the leg side. She carried on in a similar vein after the break, threading three more boundaries through the off side.
There was a hint of fallibility as Katherine Brunt beat her big swing when Verma was on 35. Then, having moved to 41 with another jaw-dropping four, stepping forward and raising her back foot as she chipped the ball sweetly back over bowler Kate Cross' head, Verma edged Cross' next ball narrowly past Heather Knight, diving low to her left at first slip, for another boundary.
Another of India's five Test debutants, Sharma, who had been unbeaten on 29 in the first innings, was promoted to No. 3 in the second when Smriti Mandhana fell on the stroke of lunch. Sharma played the foil to Verma's exuberance, having faced 44 balls for a solitary run before rain caused a half-hour interruption to the afternoon session with Verma on 46 and India 57 for 1, a deficit of 108 runs.
Sharma upped her scoring rate after the stoppage, driving Cross to the boundary through the covers twice, before Verma brought up her fifty off 63 balls with a single off Cross to mid-on, becoming the first Indian woman and the youngest woman from any country to score twin fifties on Test debut. Across men's and women's Tests, only Sachin Tendulkar was younger when he achieved the milestone. Verma managed another four - the 11th of her innings - when she cracked Sophie Ecclestone over mid-off before the rain brought about the tea break.
Play had resumed half an hour late after lunch because of the rain even though it was only the faintest drizzle after England had further dented India's hopes when Brunt enticed Mandhana, then on 8, into a drive and she edged to Nat Sciver at second slip.
Earlier, Ecclestone picked up from where England had left off on the second evening, adding three more wickets to her tally on the third morning as India were bowled out for 231.
India resumed on 187 for 5 after a flurry of wickets in the final hour on Thursday brought undone the first-innings opening partnership worth 167 between Verma and Mandhana. Ecclestone, the left-arm spinner, struck with her first ball - the fifth of the day overall - when she had Harmanpreet Kaur out lbw. It took an astute England review to claim the wicket after Kaur was initially given not out by on-field umpire Sue Redfern, with replays showing the ball hitting leg stump.
Ecclestone then had Taniya Bhatia out lbw with the first ball of her next over, Bhatia burning a review in the hope of having a fairly cut-and-dried dismissal overturned. By then, India had lost seven wickets for 20 runs in 14.2 overs.
But it was perhaps her removal of Sneh Rana that would have brought Ecclestone the greatest satisfaction, such was the quality of the delivery, pitching outside off and turning sharply across to find the edge, Amy Jones taking a juggling catch behind the stumps. It was Ecclestone's fourth wicket and she ended the innings with 4 for 88 from 26 overs.
Brunt then struck at the very first opportunity with the new ball, bowling Pooja Vastrakar with a dream delivery, one that swung out a mile and clipped the top of off stump. And when Anya Shrubsole bowled Jhulan Goswami with an inswinger, the visitors were all out, still 16 runs short of avoiding the follow-on.
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India Women tour of England