Mithali Raj kept her cards close to her chest about Shafali Verma’s batting position, but the BCCI and Sky have both listed her as an opener – that could be a lot of fun. No Poonam Yadav for India, or Jemimah Rodrigues.
Shrey: “Shikha Pandey listed at 11. Surely her batting hasn’t deteriorated that much since she last played a test in England?” — It’s an incredibly deep batting line-up, Shrey. Wouldn’t be surprised to see her shuffle up to No. 9 but all of the bowlers can hold a bat.
“Sneh Rana is the surprise pick,” Annesha Ghosh reports. “Offspin-bowling allrounder makes her Test debut for India upon returning to the national squad for the first time since 2016. She made the Indian squad for the UK tour on the back of her performance in the domestic 50-over tournament earlier this year, where she topped the wicket charts for the Mithali Raj-led Railways with 18 at an average of 12.66, while scoring 160 runs at a strike rate of 123.07 in the middle order.” She is one of five new caps along with Shafali, Deepti, Bhatia and Vastrakar.
England win the toss and choose to bat.
England: 1 Tammy Beaumont, 2 Lauren Winfield-Hill, 3 Heather Knight (capt), 4 Nat Sciver, 5 Amy Jones (wk), 6 Sophia Dunkley, 7 Georgia Elwiss, 8 Katherine Brunt, 9 Sophie Ecclestone, 10 Anya Shrubsole, 11 Kate Cross
India: 1 Smriti Mandhana, 2 Shafali Verma, 3 Punam Raut, 4 Mithali Raj (capt), 5 Harmanpreet Kaur, 6 Deepti Sharma, 7 Sneh Rana, 8 Taniya Bhatia (wk), 9 Jhulan Goswami, 10 Pooja Vastrakar, 11 Shikha Pandey
Knight: “There’s been a lot of talk about the pitch. It looks OK. Even covering of grass. We have to go out there and put a score on the board. Dunks comes in for her first game. She massively deserves this chance, she’s been outstanding in domestic cricket. [100th game] Really proud. Those five years have gone very fast. But today’s not about me, it’s about the team.”
Mithali: “We would have batted. The first session will be crucial – if we can get early breakthroughs we can put pressure on them. The groundstaff have rolled the pitch hard so it seems like a fresh wicket. Shafali is making her debut. We have three seamers and two spinners. [Where will Shafali bat?] We’ll have to see… [Break since last Test] It is challenging to pick a team but as seniors we share our experiences. It comes down to how we react on the ground. We’ve had a few sessions in the whites.”
9.29am: Moments away from the toss. Heather Knight, England’s captain, is leading her country out for the 100th time across formats – and has been doing some visualisations ahead of the big moment…
A couple of reminders ahead of the toss: DRS is in operation for this Test, with three reviews per side per innings. And we’re also using a multi-format points system across this tour, so there’s a chance for a team to go 4-0 up this week. Mithali Raj wants to see one used more regularly.
The news from Bristol is that Shafali Verma and Sophia Dunkley have both been capped by their respective teams. We’ll let you know as we hear about any further debuts. Sounds like just the one cap for England, which suggests Kate Cross plays ahead of Emily Arlott.
Aayush: “Hey Matt, how are the conditions there in Bristol. Any chances of rain playing spoilsport?” — It’s a beautiful sunny day out West, but there is a bit of rain in the forecast for the next couple of days, I’m afraid.
10.05am: Sadly, the build-up for this match has been overshadowed by the disappointing news that it will be played on a pitch that has already been used in one of Gloucestershire’s T20 Blast fixtures. Heather Knight was incredibly restrained in her reaction, saying it was “not ideal” and using the phrase “it is what it is” more than a 2019 Love Island contestant, but Alex Hartley, the ex-England left-arm spinner and now a TV pundit, was less restrained, tweeting: “WHAT. A. SHAMBLES.” Let’s hope there’s still some pace and bounce in it today.
Sampath Bandarupalli has the stats preview for today, with India on the cusp of breaking a record for consecutive Test wins if they can do the job this week. If you’d rather get your preview in video form, meanwhile, here are Valkerie Baynes and Annesha Ghosh to run you through the talking points.
10.00am: It’s back! Seven long years have gone by since India Women’s last Test match, an innings win against South Africa in 2014, but that long, long wait comes to an end in an hour’s time. England, playing their first Test since the 2019 Ashes, are the opposition on what looks set to be a scorching day in Bristol. We’ll have news from the toss in half an hour, but grab a bowl of granola and a macchiato for some pre-match reading, starting with the scene-scetter. I’m Matt Roller, and I’ll be joined by Vishal Dikshit to talk you through this one.