India opener and number one ODI batswoman Smriti Mandhana is in no mood to take it easy after a memorable season and is busy tweaking her all-round game in the lead up to the Women’s T20 World Cup early next year. The season that went by saw the 22-year-old reach the top of the ODI rankings. Mandhana is not just known for her stylish strokeplay anymore, she has added much-needed power to her game to meet the demands of the modern game.
After a fruitful fitness camp at the NCA in Bengaluru, Mandhana said she remains a work in progress. “It was a good fitness camp. Finally, after an year or two, we got a month off. It was good for us to come back and do a fitness camp. It was much needed because we are going to have a hectic eight months, so we have to get our body prepared for the grind,” Mandhana was quoted by PTI after receiving the Arjuna Award here on Tuesday.
On her own batting, she said: “I and coach Raman sir have been discussing quite a bit about my game. How I can become more consistent in T20 cricket, how I can add more power to my game. I still feel I need to improve on that front.
“You have to improve because other teams are also keeping an eye on you. Adding new shots is not something which I am looking for, I am looking to consistently hit the same length of balls in different places,” said Mandhana, who is confident of another stellar season in the Kia Super League to be held in the UK next month.
While Mandhana was India’s stand-out performer in ODIs and T20s, the team’s performance in the shortest format has left a lot to be desired as it lost six games in a row. The team did not have enough fire-power and though the issues facing the side were discussed at length in the camp, Mandhana feels there is still a long way to go.
“Fitness was a major point of discussion after the season ended. Raman sir and we collectively discussed that fitness needs to be better to be a potent T20 side. That thing is being worked out and girls are looking in better shape.”
With the likes of Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet Kaur playing their part, the team needs more aggressive batters, especially in the middle order.
“Our batting depth has to improve and Raman sir has been speaking to all the batters on the aspect of power hitting. Improved fitness will not only help our power-hitting but will also help our fielding.
“It is more mental than anything else. That is what Raman sir has been stressing on. He has given the freedom to the batters to express themselves in the middle rather than holding back,” she added.
India, who have not played international cricket since March, host South Africa in September. The T20 World Cup will be held in Australia from February 21 to March 8.