Cricket

England on top in Test despite rain

England 396-9 dec: Knight 95, Dunkley 74*, Rana 4-131
India 231 (Verma 96, Ecclestone 4-88) & 83-1 Verma 55*
India trail England by 82 runs
Scorecard

England put themselves in a strong position in the one-off Test against India despite much of the day being wiped out by rain in Bristol.

India, resuming on 187-5, were bundled out for 231, trailing England by 165, with Sophie Ecclestone taking 4-88.

Heather Knight asked India to bat again and England struck quickly, dismissing Smriti Mandhana to leave the tourists 29-1.

However, teenager Shafali Verma once again impressed, making an unbeaten 55 to guide India to 83-1, still 108 runs behind England.

India, who had been cruising at 167-0 on Thursday, collapsed to lose eight wickets for 30 runs.

Left-arm spinner Ecclestone claimed a wicket in her first over of the day and ran through the India lower order, while Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole produced two stunning, swinging deliveries to wrap up the innings.

Brunt’s dismissal of Mandhana as India followed on put the hosts firmly on top, but they will need to push hard after losing 52 overs to rain.

There will be 108 overs bowled on the fourth and final day when play begins at 11:00 BST.

England impress before Verma’s counter-attack

England were clearly energised after taking five wickets in the final session on Thursday, with plenty of noise around the bat from the first over.

Ecclestone took three wickets for nine runs in her first five overs, trapping Harmanpreet Kaur and Taniya Bhatia lbw, before wicketkeeper Amy Jones took a superb reaction catch to dismiss Sneh Rana.

Brunt, who spent much of the second day’s play furious and frustrated, then struck straight away with the second new ball, producing a sharp inswinging delivery to bowl Pooja Vastrakar.

Knight had no hesitation in sending India back out to bat after Shrubsole had bowled Goswami, but Verma played yet another mature innings to keep the tourists hanging in.

Verma’s game is not just built on power. There is pure timing, shown by the back-to-back cuts she played off Shrubsole that raced to the boundary.

When she brought up her half-century, 40 of those 50 runs had come from boundaries. Bar one ugly swipe at an increasingly unamused Brunt, there was barely a chance offered.

Mandhana fell early to Brunt, pushing at a wide delivery and sending a thick edge to Nat Sciver at second slip, but Deepti Sharma was obdurate, at one point registering one run from 44 balls.

She was warned by the umpires for time wasting as the rain drew in, but she was able to stay strong enough with the bat to stop any further damage.

England’s Katherine Brunt was locked in a fascinating battle with India teenager Shafali Verma

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