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Women give India a reason to smile

Calcutta/ Wormsley: The Indian men’s team might have disappointed with their spineless performance in the last three weeks but their women counterparts showed steely temperament as they made a remarkable comeback into Test fold, beating England by six wickets, here, on Saturday.

Skipper Mithali Raj led from the front with a gutsy unbeaten 50 as India surpassed a competitive target of 181 runs to win by six wickets. 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 women played after an eight-year hiatus with eight players in the starting XI making their Test debut.

For the record, this win is the fourth Test victory for the Indian women.

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), Mithali and 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.

Resuming at 119 for four, the Indians required only 62 runs more on the final day after opener Smriti Mandhana’s impressive 51.

Mithali slammed four boundaries in her innings, while Shikha hit two fours during her knock.

“When we won the last Test back in 2006 (in Taunton), we were told that we were not going to play anymore Test matches.

“I don’t know how many more years of cricket is left in me but I am happy that I have played one more Test match before hanging my boots,” an emotional skipper Mithali said at the post match presentation even as her teammates cheered her on.

Meanwhile, Harmanpreet Kaur was reprimanded after pleading guilty to a Level 1 breach of the ICC Code of Conduct during the first day’s play. She was found to have breached Article 2.1.3 of the Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to “Showing dissent at an umpire’s decision during an International Match.”