Heather Knight column: 'It's fair to say we had a bit of a wobble'

Heather Knight

Life on tour in India is a completely different beast to anywhere else in the world. It's an assault on the senses both on and off the field. Cricket is "king" here, so where better to be playing the ICC Women's World Twenty20?

We started the tour in Chennai with three warm-up games against New Zealand and South Africa, and it was nice to get three wins under our belt leading into the start of the tournament.

After a month of playing on flat, bouncy pitches in South Africa it was good to get some games in Indian conditions - with bowlers looking to adjust their lengths and nail their variations, and batters working out their individual methods of scoring.

As you will have seen from some of the games so far in both the men's and the women's tournaments, it's also the variations in the surfaces from match to match that need to be adjusted to.

There have already been some absolute belters (such as England men's win over South Africa - absolutely unbelievable scenes!) and some slow, low turners. So it's all about adapting to the conditions that are in front of you on the day and having lots of tools in your locker, to be able to play and perform on anything that is in front of you.

Smeatons Tower and the Madras Lighthouse
Smeaton's Tower (left) dates back to 1759 - while its Madras lookalike (right) opened in 1977

Off the pitch, a group of us managed to get out and explore a bit of Chennai (albeit with a police escort!) one afternoon. Although it appeared the trip was doomed from the outset when we realised that none of us had packed anything suitable for the dress regulations for a visit to a local temple, it was onto Plan B, a trip to see a colonial fort… again a non-starter when we found out that it was closed on Sundays.

Step up option number three, the top attraction - the Madras Lighthouse! Coming from Plymouth it was definitely a poor man's Smeaton's Tower, but it was an experience none the less.

One of my favourite things about touring India is the old stories that come pouring out from some of the more experienced members of the squad. We're unbelievably well looked after these days, but tours here were a bit more hairy back in the day, apparently.

The infamous story of picking the team based on whoever could do a lap of the field without being sick (or worse!) following a severe team bout of 'Delhi belly' a few years back is a classic! Fingers crossed history doesn't repeat itself.

On occasions, there can be a breakdown in communication over here when ordering. This wasn't quite what I was after when I ordered a lime and soda:

A "lime and soda"
Your lime and soda, madam...

After a quick frisk and flight to Bangalore, we started our tournament against Bangladesh and it was good to get going with a win, with the captain picking up player of the match. Although we didn't play quite at our best, a win is a win.

We then jumped on another two flights up to the absolutely stunning Dharamsala ground in north India, ready for our game against the hosts.

Jenny Gunn
Jenny Gunn was amused at the airport's ladies' frisking area

We knew beating India in India in front of a very noisy home crowd was always going to be tough and our bowlers did a great job to keep India to 90-8, with 'The Hoof' (Anya Shrubsole) nailing her lengths at the start of the innings and Jenny Gunn her slower balls at the end of the innings in particular.

I was also really happy to chip in with a few wickets on a very helpful surface, particularly as we unfortunately lost Danni Hazell to injury before the game. I'm gutted for Dan, she's been amazing for us in T20 cricket, but having another quality spinner in Becky Grundy to come in is reassuring.

We knew it was going to be a tough chase on that wicket. We started brilliantly during the powerplay, but after that found it very difficult to score freely in the middle, with a barrage of spin on a deteriorating, turning wicket.

It's fair to say we had a bit of a wobble and made life slightly difficult for ourselves, but we know we have a very long batting line-up. Although it was a nail-biter watching from the dugout, we were always confident that we would get over the line, which we did with two wickets to spare.

Although I enjoyed bowling on the wicket and the game ended up as a low-scoring thriller, the surface in my opinion wasn't a great T20 pitch and didn't encourage particularly positive, free-flowing cricket.

Saying that, we have another game in Dharamsala against West Indies on Thursday on what is likely to be a similar surface, so we will have to find a better way of combating the conditions with the bat.

Read more from Heather Knight's winter tour columns
From Plymstock to India: "Shy tomboy" to full-time cricketer
Rhinos, team-mate pranks and England's win in South Africa
Bondi Beach lifeguards, erotic thrillers and learning from the WBBL
A new coach, 'Mrs Bump', Tasmanian devils and heading down under

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