Spinners Sneh Rana and Deepti Sharma helped India fight back by triggering a batting collapse in the final session but England put on 269/6 with captain Heather Knight narrowly missing a ton on the opening day of the one-off Test in Bristol on Wednesday.
Playing a Test match after nearly seven years, India toiled with the ball in the first sessions before Rana (3/77) and Sharma (2/50) brought the side back by accounting for two batters each in the final session.
From a comfortable 230/2, England were reeling at 251/6 as the pitch, which has been used before, seemed to assist the Indian spinners.
For England, Tammy Beaumont (66) looked solid at the top apart from Knight (95), who missed out in her 100th match as captain. At stumps, Sophie Dunkley was batting on 12 while Katherine Brunt was on 7.
Knight paced her innings to perfection and notched up her third Test fifty just after tea.
The Indians were sloppy on the field initially as Sharma dropped a straight-forward catch off Natalie Sciver (42) at midwicket off Harmanpreet Kaur’s bowling. But she made up for the mistake soon, dismissing Sciver leg before with the batter adding just eight more runs to her score.
The Indians struck again three overs later, this time off-spinner Rana sending back Amy Jones, who was adjudged leg before wicket as the batter went for an unsuccessful review.
But it was Sharma who got the big breakthrough in the form of Knight, who was also trapped leg before. Knight scored her runs off 175 balls with of nine boundaries.
Rana soon picked up her third wicket of the day when she induced an edge from Georgia Elwiss to Sharma at slip.
Earlier, England lost Beaumont in the second session but managed to consolidate their position by reaching 162/2 at tea.
After getting rid of Lauren Winfield-Hill (35) in the first session of the day, India toiled hard before Rana picked up her first Test wicket. She got rid of in-form of Beaumont, who was brilliantly caught by Shafali Verma at short leg.
Beaumont faced 166 balls and decorated her innings with six fours en route to her second Test fifty.
Knight then batted cautiously and remained unbeaten in the company of Sciver as England made 76 runs off 28 overs in the second session.
The Indian pace duo of veteran Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey made a promising start, doing just enough to trouble the English batters on more than one occasion.
In the seventh over, Goswami induced an edge from Winfield-Hill as the batter went for a drive but Smriti Mandhana dropped the chance in the slip cordon despite getting both hands on the ball.
In the next over, Winfield got lucky again. Debutant Pooja Vastrakar induced a thick edge from the batter but the ball flew between second slip and gully to the boundary.
After a slow and cautious start, England picked up the pace. Winfield was the more positive of the two batters as she lofted Pandey over the mid-wicket to hit the first six of the innings and in the process brought up England’s fifty in the 17th over.
An over later, Winfield hit another maximum, this time over backward square leg off Vastrakar.
Vastrakar eventually had the last laugh as she had Winfield caught by wicketkeeper Taniya Bhatia, giving India the breakthrough.
As many as five players made Test debut for India, including Verma, Sharma, Vastrakar, Rana and Bhatia, while for England Sophia Dunkley was the lone player to earn a Test cap.
The ongoing match is Indian women team’s first Test outing in seven years. They last played a Test match way back in November 2014 against South Africa in Mysuru.
With PTI Inputs
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