67th over: India 197-7 (Sharma 8, Rana 2) Ecclestone turns one away from Sharma who fences an edge and spawns two through leg gully. “You’re on top here Soph,” says someone, as Sharma nurdles a single to off, after which Rana defends well enough.
“Back to slow over rates,” tweets @Mysteron_Voice, “Ecclestone seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time between deliveries, although, in mitigation, they’re not actually showing us if she’s waiting for the batter…”
Before she started this over, the umpire told Sharma to get on with it, but as you say we don’t know if that’s a frequent problem.
66th over: India 194-7 (Sharma 5, Rana 2) There’s drizzle in Brizzle but they’re still out there for now and it’s not Shrubsole or Brunt we see but Knight, looking to improve on last evening’s extraordinary figures of 6-5-1-2. She doesn’t find as much spin as Ecclestone, but sends down a maiden nonetheless.
66th over: India 194-7 (Sharma 5, Rana 2) The leg slip has gone as Ecclestone twirls in to the left-handed Sharma, who gets down on one knee to help a poor delivery to the fine leg fence for four. But Ecclestone, or “Soph” as the 69 fielders continually call her, is quickly back into stride, sending down five dots – though the last requires a diving stop from Knight at midwicket.
65th over: India 190-7 (Sharma 1, Rana 2) I wonder if we might see Brunt or Shrubsole soon, but in the meantime Sciver is bowling nicely and Sharma is happy enough to survive before nudging her final delivery around the corner for one.
64th over: India 189-7 (Sharma 0, Rana 2) This is like watching England’s men! And here come some tail-end runs, Rana edging two to backward square, so England inset a leg slip to go with their slip, silly point and short leg – Rana is boxed in, with a lot of patter in her ears. But she plays Ecclestone well enough, surviving three dots.
That was clattering leg stump. India still need 60 to avoid the follow-on.
Goodness me! India have now lost seven for 20, including two this morning without adding a run! This is open and shut, Ecclestone again straightening one that again hits low on the pad, and that’s gone! Welcome to Test cricket!
63rd over: India 187-6 (Sharma 0, Bhatia 0) Bhatia is the last of the batters – something something nominative determinism – but it’s Sharma on strike as Sciver pounds through another maiden. Sharma almost gets into trouble when she goes to play down into the off side and withdraws the bat, only to feather the ball anyway – but it drops shy of gully.
62nd over: India 187-6 (Sharma 0, Bhatia 0) Bhatia is another India making her Test d’boo and she arrives into the middle of a mess. There’s a slip, a silly point and a short leg as Ecclestone wheels in from around – what a bowler she’s become – and the fielders are up! Bhatia defends well enough, and that’s a wicket maiden.
It doesn’t hit the boot as it turns out, it pitches and straightens just before, cracks the bottom of the pad, and was going to hit the top of leg! That’s six wickets for 20 runs and India are in all sorts!
62nd over: India 187-5 (Kaur 4, Sharma 0) Ecclestone begins from the other end as you’d expect and immediately she introduces ball to boot! It’s full, it straightens, there’s a confident appeal … and it’s rejected. England review…
61st over: India 187-5 (Kaur 4, Sharma 0) There’s a lot of chatter coming from the fielders – England know that they can settle this in this sesh, and they’re up for it. Sciver begins with one that shapes away, well, away, but by her third delivery she finds her line, moving one off the seam and off a length that leaves Deepti, who plays and misses. Great stuff, and a maiden.
Housekeeping: this is a four-day Test, so the follow-on mark is 150, not 200 behind. That makes it 247, meaning India need another 60.
Does Bristol have its own micro-climate? Both yesterday and today things have changed – for the better – out of nowhere.
Anya Shrubsole calls Verma “incredible”, but also talks about the “power hour” at the end of play that saw England take control of the match. Her team plan to come out, be disciplined, and try to get some early wickets.
Verma tells Sky that she enjoys the English weather – seriously – and conditions, and that Mandhana was advising her how to play England’s various bowlers. Today, she says the plan is to stay at the crease and make runs. Simple game.
In her intro to today’s play, Mel Jones talked about “an hour of chaos” and “the best day” she’s ever seen. That’s some praise.
Watching the highlights of yesterday, it really was a truly bonkers affair. If England can knock India over this morning, there’s a pretty good chance they can enforce the follow-on then force the win tomorrow. However, Harmanpreet is at the wicket and, as we know, she can make the impossible possible.
Hope! Matt Potter emails in as follows: “Hoping the forecast is being overly negative. It’s pretty bright and dry as it stands out my window 10 minutes from the ground, certainly no worse than yesterday (yet!).”
Come on Bristol!
Back to Verma, just as the outcome of this match won’t matter, nor will her getting out on 96 matter. Much as cricket is about numbers, sport is about memories and feeling, neither of which can be quantified.
Yeah, and it’s not looking great at Southampton either – though that Test has a sixth day while this is expected to be done in four.
That weather then. It’s not looking good, I’m afraid. I guess we can hope for a bit of play in the (crucial) first hour, but otherwise we’re struggling.
Wow! In the many decades we’ve all been watching this thing of ours, rarely we have seen a day like yesterday, dominated by two brilliant and different comings of age that’ll be remembered long after the outcome of this match is forgotten.
Only Sophia Dunkley will know how she absorbed the pressure of being the first Black woman to play cricket for England, never mind absorbed it to go out into the middle and play a definitive innings of skill, intelligence and composure – but she did it. Similarly, only Shafali Verma will know how she went out into the middle, aged 17 and on deboo, to take apart one of the best attacks in the world, with an innings of skill, enterprise and joy – but she did it.
So much as it’s brutal that, after two great days of Test Match KrikkitTM, we’re struggling for a result because we’re struggling for weather, in a sense it doesn’t matter. We’ve already been given much more than we came for, and the heroes who made it happen are just getting started.
Play: 11am BST