Indian women suffered yet another batting collapse before the lower-order lifted the team to 243 for eight at tea on the fourth day as the one-off Test against England headed for a tense finish on Saturday.
India lost four quick wickets for 28 runs after lunch but debutant Sneh Rana (27 batting) and veteran Shikha Pandey (18) kept the visitor afloat with a crucial 41-run partnership for the eighth wicket. The duo batted for almost 17 overs before Shikha was caught behind off Natalie Sciver in the 91st over.
At tea, Taniya Bhatia (three batting) was giving Sneh company with India leading by 78 runs. A minimum of 40 overs still remain in the match.
Resuming the second innings at 83 for one, India was 171 for three at lunch with Deepti Sharma scoring a resolute 54. She added 72 with Punam Raut (39 off 83 balls) but was dismissed at the stroke of lunch.
After the break, England then dismissed skipper Mithali Raj (four) and Punam cheaply to leave India at 175 for five. While Mithali misread an Ecclestone delivery which clipped the bails off, Punam , who was looking good till then, ended up gave a catch to square leg.
Pooja Vastrakar (12) smashed three boundaries off Ecclestone in the 68th over before being cleaned up by Heather Knight in the 71st over.
Vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur too couldn’t last long as she got out playing a slog sweep to become Ecclestone’s fourth victim. Shikha and Sneh then stemmed the rot and hit eight boundaries between them.
Earlier, India lost opener Shafali Verma (63) when she was caught by Katherine Brunt off Ecclestone in the 30th over. She could add just eight more runs, which included a six off Ecclestone, to her overnight score of 55 as India slipped to 99 for two.
Deepti then produced a dogged half-century to keep India’s hopes alive of forcing a draw. She and Punam showed great resilience as India took a lead of six runs with seven wickets in hand at lunch.
However, a sudden lapse of concentration saw Deepti playing a reckless slog off Sophie Ecclestone in the 58th over only to drag the ball onto her leg-stump in what was the last ball before lunch.
She played some good shots, including a drive off Anya Shrubsole and a sweep.
Punam too had a few hits to the fence — one off Ecclestone across the covers and the other a back-foot punch through covers. She also survived two leg before appeals with DRS coming to her rescue on both occasions.
Deepti reached her fifty, taking a single off Natalie Sciver behind square in the 55th over.