Shafali Verma: Natural to feel bad when a batsman gets out in the 90s

Shafali Verma, playing her maiden Test, hit a strokefilled 96 off 152 balls before falling to Kate Cross. Her innings was studded with 13 fours and two sixes.

Shafali Verma made an enterprising 96 on her Test debut.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma struck enterprising fifties but England fought back late in the final session to reduce India to 187/5 at stumps on Day 2 of the one-off Test in Bristol.

Verma, 17, struck 13 fours and two sixes during her strokefilled 152-ball innings. She fell to Kate Cross just four short of a Test century on debut. Mandhana made 78 before holing out off Nat Sciver's bowling. Mandhana and Verma added a record 167 runs for the first wicket before their dismissals triggered a mini-collapse, with the visiting side losing five wickets for just 16 runs.

"If a batsman gets out in the 90s, it's natural for them to feel bad," Verma said at the presser after stumps on day two. "I looked to play my natural game. We focussed on punishing the loose balls and spending time out in the middle."

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Shafali Verma hits maiden fifty on Test debut vs England in Bristol  

The 17-year-old opener, currently the top-ranked T20I batter in the ICC women's rankings, is known for her aggressive approach up front. But on Thursday, in her maiden outing as Test opener, she curbed her natural stroke-making instincts at the start. Asked about her majestic opening stand with Mandhana, Verma said: "It is usually tough to negotiate the bowling at the start of an innings. We were biding time and giving respect to the bowlers. But in doping so, we missed out on converting a few loose balls into boundaries (smiles)".

"These two days of Test cricket have taught me the importance of patience and fitness. I will get a lot of confidence from this innings and hopefully, will convert the 90 into 100 next time."

Earlier in the day, Sophia Dunkley's unbeaten 74 - the first Black woman to play Test cricket for England - coupled with big-hitting by Anya Shrubsole had propelled England to 396 for 9 when captain Heather Knight declared their first innings shortly after lunch.

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