While Test matches in women's cricket have been drying up in recent years, England have been one of the two lucky sides to get enough four-day matches to play thanks mainly to the Ashes. Test cricket, considered to be the ultimate format by cricketers and experts alike, is almost exclusive to England and Australia in women's cricket with eight of the last 10 series being the bilateral contest between these two sides.
This summer however, will witness the return of the Indian cricket team, led by veteran batter Mithali Raj, to the format for the first time in seven years as they take on Heather Knight's team to kick their month-long tour of England off. They will additionally be drawing inspiration from their successful summer trip to this nation seven years ago, when quality bowling performances from Jhulan Goswami and Niranjana Nagaran as well as fifties from Smriti Mandhana and Raj helped the Indians chase down the 181-run target with six wickets to spare. As many as seven members of the current Indian squad were part of that victory in Wormsley and will know what it takes to defeat England in England.
Knight and Co, one of the top sides in the world who had beaten the Indians in the final of the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup, will bank on home advantage as well as the fact that they've played more Tests than their South Asian rivals as they seek to get their home season, which includes a visit by New Zealand in September, off to a positive start.
Ahead of the one-off Test that gets underway on Wednesday, here are five English players who could make a major impact in the upcoming Test:
She doesn't have too many Test appearances to her credit, having played a total of two matches " both against Australia " since making her debut in 2016. But the fact that she spent time with several of the current Indian side in the Women's T20 Challenge in the UAE last year certainly gives her an advantage over most of her teammates.
Ecclestone, who was part of the Trailblazers side that went on to win the 2020 edition, ended up the second-highest wicket-taker (5) in that tournament. More recently, she was in fine nick during the tour of New Zealand, in which she dished out a series of economical spells as the visitors completed a 3-0 sweep of the T20I leg of the series. She has also collected eight wickets from three games in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy (RHFT) so far at an average of 14.25 and an economy under 4.
The most-capped member of the English squad and one of the most experienced players worldwide, Brunt's status as the leader of the attack as well as a member of the leadership group automatically makes her integral to Team India's plans ahead of the four-day meeting that begins on 16 June.
Brunt, who is 13 short of 300 international wickets " 41 of those in Test cricket " was economical in both the ODI and T20I legs of the tour of New Zealand in February-March this year, and is also among the leading wicket-takers in the 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy competition, having collected nine wickets from three games to currently sit second in the bowling charts.
Of her 12 Test appearances, only one came against India at Leicester in the summer of 2006, in which she grabbed the two top-order wickets of Monica Sumra and Karu Jain and scored 11 runs in a drawn encounter.
The Worcestershire bowler was rewarded for her consistent performances in the domestic circuit with a call-up to the national team " the first such instance in her nascent senior career.
Arlott has been especially impressive in the RHFT for Central Sparks so far, collecting eight wickets from three games including a 5/29 that setup a 120-run victory over the Southern Vipers. She's also handy with the bat, the evidence of which lies in her unbeaten 24 off 18 balls to help her side pull off a thrilling two-wicket win over Northern Diamonds.
Arlott, who admitted she was shocked into silence upon receiving the news of her selection, will hope to make the most of what could be a golden opportunity to announce herself in international cricket should she get the nod from skipper Heather Knight and the rest of the leadership group.
The 30-year-old English opener has been in roaring form with the bat in recent months during the tour of New Zealand as well as on the domestic circuit.
Beaumont, who has over 3,568 runs to her credit in the 50-over format with seven tons and 12 half-centuries, registered scores of 71, 72 not out and 88 not out in each of the three one-dayers against New Zealand earlier this year. She then followed it up with a 63 in the second WT20I against the White Ferns. The Kent native has so far registered two half-centuries in three games for Lightning in RHFT, placing her in the sixth position in the batting charts that is currently topped by keeper-bat Amy Jones.
Beaumont has made four appearances in the Test arena so far in her 12-year international career so far, one of which came against India in 2014.
One of the most experienced members of the English squad with nearly 200 international caps to her credit, there are few players more important to England's fortunes in the upcoming one-off Test against India than the leader herself.
Knight, who successfully led England in their victorious ODI World Cup campaign in 2017 along with a runner-up finish in the T20 World Cup the following year, currently occupies the crucial No 3 slot in the batting order in the English Test side, having moved one position down following Tammy Beaumont's rise as an opener alongside Lauren Winfield-Hill. Aside from a couple of half-centuries in the ODIs in New Zealand, Knight has scored a fifty in each of her RHFT appearances this season, putting her on the second position in the batting charts.