Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Spectacular Sneh Rana stars in India's great escape

Lack of fifth day robbed us of exciting finish - Heather Knight (0:48)

Heather Knight is open to women playing five day Tests after England's match with India ended in a draw (0:48)

India 231 (Verma 96, Mandhana 78, Ecclestone 4-88, Knight 2-7) and 344 for 8 (Rana 80*, Verma 63, Sharma 54, Bhatia 44*) (f/o) drew with England 396 for 9 dec. (Knight 95, Dunkley 74*, Beaumont 66, Rana 4-131, Sharma 3-65)

Anyone looking at the scoreline alone might see nothing more than "just a draw" but this Test between England and India was full of twists and star turns on both sides of what proved to be an enthralling arm-wrestle well into the final evening session.

The teams agreed to a draw at 6.13pm local time with India 344 for 8 in their second innings following on, a lead of 179 runs, after Sneh Rana and Taniya Bhatia had combined for an unbroken stand of 104.

Sophie Ecclestone's four wickets earlier in the day had England in prime position to push for victory before an eighth-wicket partnership worth 41 runs between Rana and Shikha Pandey had India clinging on to the prospect of a draw at tea.

"Just a draw". Try telling that to Rana, who on Test debut produced just the innings her side needed, reaching 80 not out off 154 balls to kill off any chance of the hosts sealing a result. Bhatia was unbeaten on 44 at stumps.

With the pitch offering little to the seamers, it fell to Ecclestone to be the spearhead with Heather Knight chiming in with her part-time offspin. Ecclestone had already claimed 4 for 88 as India were bowled out for 231 in reply to England's first-innings 396 for 9 declared.

When she removed what appeared to be India's greatest threat - the 17-year-old debutant Shafali Verma - it looked as though England were well on their way to ensuring the visitors couldn't possibly salvage a draw.

"Just a draw". Try telling that to the bank of spectators - barely 200 of them - who had witnessed Katherine Brunt's screamer to remove Verma off Ecclestone's bowling, their collective groan when the big-screen replay switched to a graphic at the crucial moment making it sound like they were far greater in number.

Just like the few hundred others who had bothered to attend each of the previous three days, they had witnessed something truly impressive, not least the breath-taking talent of Verma in scoring 96 and 63 in two vital contributions.

India's spectacular first-innings collapse in which they lost seven wickets for 20 runs in 14.2 overs and in which Deepti Sharma was the only middle-order batter to pass 4 with her unbeaten 29, rammed home the importance of Verma's wicket, or so it seemed.

With Verma gone, however, Sharma and Punam Raut dug in with a 72-run partnership for the third wicket, Sharma falling on the last ball before lunch with India leading by just six runs.

Until then, with England struggling to make inroads, the match looked like meandering towards a draw that would belie the many fascinating storylines from the match.

"Just a draw". Try telling that to Knight, who fell just five runs shy of a century in her 100th match as England captain; to Sophia Dunkley, who scored 74 not out as the first black woman to play Test cricket for England; to Verma who showed and delivered on great promise; or to Ecclestone who worked her guts out bowling 64 overs for eight wickets in the match. Not to mention Rana whose fortitude in sealing that draw was so important to India.

When Ecclestone struck for a second time in the morning session, the prospect of a result loomed back into sight. Sharma, another debutant who had showed her stubbornness in facing 44 deliveries for a single run in her previous innings, raised a 157-ball fifty with a pull off Nat Sciver to deep backward square. But she fell for 54, inexplicably attempting to slog-sweep a full Ecclestone delivery, and bottom-edging onto her stumps.

With India leading by just 10 runs, Ecclestone had Mithali Raj out cheaply for the second time in the match, beating the bat and taking the top of off-stump as Raj attempted to guide the ball towards backward point.

And Ecclestone couldn't keep out of the action when Raut, who had overturned an lbw decision on 17 with replays showing she had edged Brunt onto her pad, pulled a Sciver short ball straight down Ecclesteone's throat at square leg to be out for 39. India had lost three wickets for four runs in the space of 6.4 overs.

Instructed to play a holding role and not give away any runs to pave the way for Ecclestone to be the main wicket-taker, Sciver at one point had taken 1 for 1 from 10 overs, which included nine maidens, and she ended the innings with figures of 16-9-21-2.

But it could be argued that England's decision not to choose a second specialist spinner on a used pitch had proven costly. The loss of a large chunk of the third day to rain didn't help their cause but ultimately their failure to take 20 wickets made the difference.

Pooja Vastrakar, promoted from No. 10 to No. 7, hit Ecclestone for 12 off one over, piercing the leg side for four three times. But that was the total of her contribution after Knight deceived her with one that beat her full-blooded swing and clattered into the stumps.

Ecclestone had Harmanpreet Kaur out trying to unleash a slog-sweep and sending a top edge high overhead, wicketkeeper Amy Jones waiting patiently below to take a simple catch.

Even then India were seven wickets down and only led by 34 runs but when Sciver had Pandey caught down the leg side by Jones for 18, Rana and Bhatia simply set themselves about their task, to see their side safely to the close of a match that was anything but "just a draw".

IND Women 3rd innings Partnerships

1st29S MandhanaShafali Verma
2nd70DB SharmaShafali Verma
3rd72PG RautDB Sharma
4th4M RajPG Raut
5th0PG RautH Kaur
6th14H KaurP Vastrakar
7th10H KaurS Rana
8th41S PandeyS Rana
9th104S RanaT Bhatia