Mithali Raj
Mithali Raj will be leading India in two Test matches this year, a rarity for women's cricket in India. Image Credit: PTI

Kolkata: Mithali Raj, Indian women’s Test captain and Jhulan Goswami, both larger-than-life characters in the sport - have welcomed the challenge of their maiden pink-ball Test later this year against Australia in Perth. The decision was announced by cricket boards of both countries on Thursday.

Great initiative by the @BCCI on adding a Day-Night Test match for the Australia tour. It will help promote women’s cricket in India and globally. @BCCIWomen,’’ tweeted Goswami, the highest wicket-taker in women’s One-day Internationals. ‘‘Exciting times ahead. Two test matches in a season. Thank you @BCCI,’’ said Raj, who will be leading India in the one-off Test against England.

MORE ON CRICKET

In their second Test of the year, Raj’s team will take on Meg Lanning’s squad at the WACA ground from September 30 in what will be only the second day-night Test in women’s cricket, following Australia’s drawn 2017 match against England in Sydney.

“Taking forward our commitment towards women’s cricket, I am extremely pleased to announce that Team India @BCCIwomen will play in their first-ever pink ball day-night Test later this year in Australia,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a post on Twitter. It will also be the first Test match between the Australian and Indian women’s teams in 15 years.

Cricket Australia’s interim CEO, Nick Hockley, hoped the multi-format series against India would match the drama of last season’s Test series between the men’s teams of the countries.

“We look forward to welcoming members of the India women’s team to Australia after what has been an incredibly challenging time and thank the BCCI for supporting this ground-breaking tour,” Hockley said in a statement.

India were last among the frontline teams to embrace pink-ball Test when their men’s team hosted Bangladesh for a day-night match in the eastern city of Kolkata in November 2019.

Before the start of the England tour in June, the BCCI handed out annual contracts to 19 players on Wednesday, with teenaged opener Shafali Verma moving up to a Grade B contract from C.

Twenty20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur, deputy Smriti Mandhana and spinner Poonam Yadav are the only three with a Grade A contract and a retainer fee of Rs five million ($68,366).

Test and ODI captain Raj is among 10 players in Grade B worth Rs three million while six players are in Grade C worth one million.