Leading India in place of injured Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana looked short of ideas against the World T20 runner-up England in the first game of the three-match series at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati on Monday. Mandhana, new to her role, couldn’t guide the bowlers and under pressure kept changing the field after every other ball, which helped the visitors to comfortably post 160 for four.
“I was leading the team for the first time and I’ve got a lot of takeaways from it. As a captain, I’ve to learn from the mistakes I made today else I won’t learn. I won’t be able to improve as a captain,” Mandhana said after the match. We had two sets of plans for each batter if the first wasn’t working we were going to the second plan. We’ll plan better and I’ll be more pro-active next time,” she added.
Chasing the mammoth total, Indian top order was not able to provide a good start as they lost three quick wickets. England at regular intervals kept on taking wickets and India fell like a pack of cards. “In the opening, we lost a wicket in the third over, then I too lost my wicket. So there was a difference in the start which was visible on the scoreboard” she said
“In T20s two wickets should not fall in the span of three or four balls. We lost our top three batters in the span of three balls. I think that makes the batting order look very thin. As a batting unit, we should take the responsibility to chase this kind of total, Mandhana pointed out.
“As a batswoman, I feel top four are playing for a long time now. Me, Mithali (Raj), Jemimah (Rodrigues) we’ll have to take more responsibility to bat through and take the team through because we have to give cushions to youngsters,” the debut captain said.
Talking about the inconsistency in the middle-order, the Southpaw said she “will have a chat with Raman Sir (Head Coach) and see how it goes”.
“Deepti (Sharma) is a really important batter for us. She’s been very flexible to change her positions. In T20s it is difficult to have the same batting order as it depends on the situation. We might send Deepti even early say two down maybe afterwards. The way she batted today (23-ball 22*), hopefully, she can take her game more forward and win the matches for India when we are just 20-3o runs short,” she said.
Harleen Deol, who replaced Harmanpreet in the three ODIs, earned her maiden India call-up for the T20I series as well. Playing in her first game, Deol seemed confident but could not settle as she was dismissed off fast bowler Katherine Brunt under third over of the match.
“As a captain, I don’t look at the way she was out. The way she was batting, she looked very positive and good. I don’t think there is any problem in that. I just want players to look confident because if they are confident enough I don’t look at what they have scored. It was her first match, just to expect her to go out and get a hundred is too much. She will definitely get her chances.”
“If you look at the number of matches everyone has played, it is just six to eight. I don’t think it the right time to experiment, we’ll have to stick to same batting order. We’ll give them more game time to prove themselves. When I came in the team, I don’t think I started scoring in the second or third match. So everybody will get their chances but I’s looking to win the matches rather than experimenting. We won’t be looking at too many changes because of one loss,” Mandhana said.
India, with 0-1 down, will lock horns with England for the second T20I on March 7 at the same venue.
(With Agency Inputs)