Wormsley, United Kingdom: The Indian men's cricket team has disappointed with their spineless performance in the last three weeks but the women counterparts showed steely temperament as they made a remarkable comeback into Test fold, beating England women by six wickets in Wormsley on Saturday.
Skipper Mithali Raj led from the front with a gutsy unbeaten 50 as Indian women's team surpassed a competitive target of 181 runs with consummate ease.
The fifth wicket pair of Mithali and Shikha Pandey (28 not out) added 68 runs to ensure a smooth sailing on the final day. This is the first Test that the eves played after a eight-year hiatus with eight players in the starting XI making their Test debut.
The women's team also achieved a remarkable feat, which the Indian men have never achieved in England, by winning back-to-back Test series, having won the one-off 'Test' at Taunton in 2006, which incidentally was also the last time that the likes of Mithali and Jhulan Goswami were seen in white flannels. Two of the three existing members of that team (third being Karuna Jain), skipper Mithali and pace spearhead Jhulan, have played an important role even this time.
While the lanky Bengal medium pacer took six wickets in the game, Mithali, who had scored 65 during the last Test, anchored the chase with a lot of resolve. Starting the day at 119 for four, Indians required only 62 runs more on the final day after opener Smriti Mandhana's impressive 51 with an opening partnership of 76 with Thirush Kamini (28), laid the foundation of a memorable victory.
On the day, with pitch having eased out, Indian batswomen did not have any problems tackling rival medium pacers --Jenny Gunn and Kate Cross. Mithali had four boundaries in her innings, while Shikha hit two fours during her knock.
For India, there have been some good performances in the Test match, starting with their new-ball bowler Niranjana Nagarajan, who scalped four wickets to help England out for 92 and then scored 27 in the first innings to give that slender yet important lead of 22 runs.
Senior pacer Jhulan then played her part in the second innings with a four-wicket haul as India restricted the hosts to 202 despite the conditions for batting having improved considerably.
Seamers Shikha Pandey, Subhalakshmi Sharma also kept the pressure getting two wickets apiece, while left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht also contributed to the winning cause with two wickets.
In India's second innings, bespectacled left-handed opener Smriti deserves equal credit as Mithali for her gutsy half-century off 109 balls. For the Indian eves, this win is their fourth Test victory.
Brief scores:India 114 & 183/4 (Smriti Mandhana 51, Mithali Raj 50 no, Shikha Pandey 28 no) beat England 92 & 202 by 6 wickets.