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Indian Premier League – IPL 2020 News : Heather Knight hails ‘great advert’

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The England captain was full of praise for her team’s efforts despite being defied by India’s lower order

Heather Knight has hailed the one-off Test between England and India as a prime advertisement for the game, saying she would welcome five-day contests for women.
Having lost a significant amount of play to rain on the third day in Bristol, England were unable to take the nine remaining wickets they needed on the fourth and final day, despite threatening to do so, thanks largely to an impenetrable ninth-wicket stand between India Test debutants Sneh Rana and Taniya Bhatia.

Rana and Bahatia, who were among five debutants for India and six in the match, put on an unbroken partnership of 104. Rana, at No. 8, was unbeaten on 80 and Bhatia was 44 not out when the sides agreed to a draw late in the final session with India 344 for 8 in their second innings following on, a lead of 179.

“What a brilliant game of cricket,” Knight, the England captain, said. “It was unfortunate it didn’t have the dramatic and exciting finish that it could have done but what a game of cricket.

“I think it’s almost a shame that today it fizzled out a little bit. It was set up to be very good and very exciting, but I think it’s been a brilliant advert. We’ve had some great skill on show, some youngsters come in from both sides and play outstandingly.

“It’s been a great advert and shows that women’s Test cricket has a place in the game.”

Sophie Ecclestone took four wickets in each of India’s innings and Nat Sciver bowled with superb economy for her 2 for 21 from 16 overs, which included nine maidens. But on a slow pitch offering very little for the seamers and Ecclestone – England’s only frontline spinner – having bowled 64 overs in the match, the hosts were left wanting for two more wickets that would allow them to mount a run-chase.

When the draw was agreed, there were still 12 overs scheduled but, even if the wickets had come then, there was no time left to overhaul India’s lead.

“We believed throughout the day that we were massively in the game,” Knight said. “We knew we had to try and force those wickets a little bit and probably tried a little bit too hard in the end to try and force it because we there wasn’t a huge amount [of time] left in the game.

“It just proved a little bit too hard to take those wickets. Credit to the bowlers. Soph bowling 60-odd overs and the seamers on what was a very dour surface, not much in it for them. They were able to run in and try and force things but unfortunately weren’t able to. India held on.”

Asked whether she would be open to women playing five-day Tests, Knight wholeheartedly agreed.

“I would definitely be open to it,” she said. “There’s obviously been a lot of draws in women’s cricket, in previous games, so yeah, it’s definitely something I think that should be looked at.

“We lost a little bit of time through the weather, etc. throughout this match and we weren’t able to force it. Generally over rates are pretty good in women’s cricket and obviously we didn’t quite get all the overs that we should have done in in this match but I think if there was another day what a great finish it would have been.

“[We were] almost robbed of that finish because there wasn’t an extra day and we didn’t have the time in the game. So, yes, something I’d definitely be open to.”

Mithali Raj, Knight’s opposite number, said: “It’s a good idea to have a five-day Test but [first] we actually have to start [having] Test matches regularly.

“Having a Test match featuring in a series is important and then take it to five days… I understand from where she [Knight] comes. I’m okay with five-day Tests also, but I would prefer having a Test match first in a series and then take it from there.”

India had not played a Test since 2014 heading into this one, which kicked off a multi-format series with England that also includes thee ODIs and three T20Is. England’s most recent Test had been in the middle of the 2019 multi-format Ashes series.

As far as the prospect of multi-Test series for women, Knight was not against the idea although she recognised the importance of the upcoming white-ball matches with India, particularly ahead of next year’s 50-over World Cup.

“We’ve got a really important ODI and T20 series with the schedule we’ve got coming up next year,” she said. “I’d always love to play more Test cricket but that’s the schedule we’ve got and we’ll prepare well for that ODI series.”

The sides next meet in the first ODI, back in Bristol on June 27.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo

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