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The big talking points ahead of England Women's clash with India

The big talking points ahead of England Women's clash with India
© Reuters
India are the visitors for a four-day match at Bristol.

England and India have not played each other in a Test since 2014, but they will meet at Bristol's County Ground on Wednesday to kick off England Women's summer.

It is a rare opportunity for both sides to don their whites for the longest format which has been on the periphery of the women's cricketing calendar with just eight Tests worldwide since 2011, of which six were Ashes clashes.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the key talking points ahead of the standalone Test match of the series, which is worth four points, with all white-ball matches worth two.

The pitch

Heather Knight revealed the day before the match was due to begin that the strip designated for the Test match, would be one used by Gloucestershire in a T20 a week previously. It has prompted widespread criticism from the likes of former England international Alex Hartley, who called it a "shambles". The England and Wales Cricket Board has issued an apology, and admitted the players "deserve a fresh wicket", and it remains to be seen how the pitch itself will play.

The return of a home crowd

The fans will return to watch the Women's team for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic
The fans will return to watch the Women's team for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic (Mike Egerton/PA)

The England Women's squad have played in front of a crowd, although not a home one, during their return to normality in a winter tour of New Zealand. However, last summer was full of bubbles and empty stadiums, and Knight said the return of England fans was brilliant.

Will the sides be red-ball ready?

England Women have not played a Test match since the 2019 Ashes
England Women have not played a Test match since the 2019 Ashes (Mark Kerton/PA)

England have had 10 days of preparation, both in Loughborough and then just before the match in Bristol, but their last Test match was in 2019, and even Knight has only played seven red-ball games during her international career. A number of the England players could make their red-ball debuts, as well as the majority of the Indian team.

Squad selection

Knight has a squad of 15 players to choose from, and the pitch could play a part in her decision, with a plethora of spinners, Sophie Ecclestone, Mady Villiers, Sophia Dunkley and Fran Wilson, all in the squad.

What will India bring

Although it is hard to say exactly what India will bring to Bristol, given that their last Test match took place seven years ago, they are likely to favour spin. Captain Mitali Raj said they had conducted a number of training sessions in whites to get used to it, with those who have played it before asked to speak to the younger members of the squad.

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Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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