The India women's team will be donning a Test jersey for the first time in nearly seven years, when they take on England at the Bristol County Ground later this week. Apart from being India's first Test appearance since November 2014, it is also the first non-Ashes women's Test in more than six years.
Test cricket after 2000-plus days for India
Mithali Raj's team will be returning to Test cricket after a break of 2401 days. It is the third-longest gap between two Tests for India Women, with two of the top three intervals coming in the last 15 years. India toured England in 2014 for a one-off Test and hosted South Africa for a Test the same year. Those are the only matches for India Women in Test cricket in the past 14 years, by far the fewest they have played in any decade.
Both Raj and Jhulan Goswami have featured in only ten Tests despite not missing any since jointly making their debuts in 2002. After the Bristol Test, the duo will jointly have the third-longest career span in women's Tests in terms of duration, but their total number of Test matches is not even in the top five for India Women, showing how the frequency of women's Tests has greatly decreased.
Will Bristol throw up a result? What history says...
Historically, only one-third of women's Tests have produced a result. However, there has been a steep decline in the percentage of draws since 2000, with only 46.67% of matches in this period ending in a draw. Until 1999, 68.18% of women's Tests were drawn, with only 35 out of 110 producing a result.
Who has more experience with long-format cricket?
England will start as the more experienced side in Bristol, having played Test cricket more often than India. Only eight players in the India squad have played a Test, compared to 11 in the hosts' side. England have played three Tests matches since India last played, all against Australia as part of the Women's Ashes. However, India players have played more multi-innings cricket than England. Four editions of the domestic inter-zone women's multi-day competitions took place in India between 2015 and 2018.
Sixteen of the 18 players in the India squad have played at least four first-class matches since India's last Test appearance. Shafali Verma and Indrani Roy are the exceptions, as they are yet to make their first-class debuts. Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Goswami have not played any first-class games since March 2015 due to international commitments. Interestingly, no player from the England squad has featured in a first-class match other than Tests.
India edge the head-to-head
India hold the edge in the head-to-head record (13 completed games) between the two teams in women's Tests. India won their two most recent meetings against England and have lost only once, by two runs in 1995. England have hosted eight completed women's Tests against India, not winning any of them.
Six of those eight matches ended in a draw with India winning the remaining two. India's record in England is the second-best on the list of most women's Tests in a country without a loss. England in New Zealand tops that list, having not lost any of their ten Tests there, winning five.
India's chance at record-breaking win
If things go their way in Bristol, India will break the record for the most consecutive wins in women's Tests. They have won their last three, two against England in England and one against South Africa in India. That has them level with Australia for the most consecutive Test wins. A win in Bristol will also leave India one series shy of equalling the record for the most consecutive series wins in women's Tests, also held by Australia.