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India vs England: Test for Smriti Mandhana as hosts seek turnaround

India are down a game to England but they feel all’s not lost. It’s a Russian roulette for India right now with the remaining two matches a must-win. And India have to turn to skipper Smriti Mandhana and her prolific form to carry them through one game at a time

cricket Updated: Mar 07, 2019 00:01 IST
Shalini Gupta
Shalini Gupta
Guwahati
Smriti Mandhana during a practice session ahead of the 2nd T20 match against England.
Smriti Mandhana during a practice session ahead of the 2nd T20 match against England. (PTI)
         

India are down a game to England but they feel all’s not lost. It’s a Russian roulette for India right now with the remaining two matches a must-win. And India have to turn to skipper Smriti Mandhana and her prolific form to carry them through one game at a time.

Mandhana was player of the ODI series but with the additional the burden of captaincy, she looked a bit nervous on the field during the first T20I. Chasing 161, India ended their innings at a dismal 119 for 6 as Mandhana had a rare failure. “The first match was a tough one. I was excited and nervous captaining India for the first time. Now I am going to be more responsible and pro-active as a captain as well as a batter. I think the wicket was very good to chase 161. Unfortunately the top-order failed to deliver. However, I was happy the way Deepti Sharma and Shikha Pandey stood up in the chase,” said Mandhana.

The captain also defended the decision of including the 18-year-old Radha Yadav instead of the experienced left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht as the youngster could also bat. It may be recalled that the 33-year-old Ekta, who has played 40 matches and taken 50 wickets in T20 cricket, won India the game by taking four wickets in the second ODI in Mumbai while Radha has just 16 runs under her belt in 18 T20 matches.

In the past, spinners Poonam Yadav and Ekta Bisht had gelled well to set up Indian victories in both formats. India had left out left-arm pacer Komal Zanzad and included Arundhati Reddy in the playing XI. Reddy’s last over accounted for 21 runs which eventually made the difference.

BATTING WOES CONTINUE

With new face Harleen Deol opening with Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues was pushed down to No 3, followed by Mithali Raj and the out-of-form Veda Krishnamurthy without making any difference to the team.

It would take a lot from the under-pressure Indian batting line-up to cover up for the loss and start afresh in the second T20I. “We have identified our roles for the upcoming match. We have got plans for Heather Knight as well as for other English cricketers. It was good to regroup and make a new strategy after the loss,” said the 22-year-old Mandhana, who also added that leg-spinner Harleen could also be used as a sixth bowler if required.

Meanwhile, England would be eyeing a 2-0 series win and finish the India tour on a high. Making note of India’s shortcomings, England women played like a unit to win the match and take a 1-0 lead. Danny Wyatt, who was involved in the match-winning 89-run opening wicket stand with Tammy Beaumont on Monday, said India would hit back hard on Thursday.

“It is always tough playing in Indian conditions. But we stuck to our plans and won the first game. India will definitely come hard at us in the second match. We just need to stick to our plans and enjoy the game,” said Wyatt.

First Published: Mar 07, 2019 00:01 IST

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