Smriti Mandhana still in extended MIQ, misses T20I against NZ; unlikely to play first ODI

India opener Smriti Mandhana missed the one-off T20 International against New Zealand here on Wednesday as she is in extended quarantine in Christchurch along with two other players, making her doubtful for the upcoming first ODI as well.

Alongside Mandhana, pacers Meghana Singh and Renuka Singh are also in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) since arriving here and it is not clear why their stay has been extended. The first ODI is slated to be played here on Saturday.

“Smriti, Meghana Singh and Renuka Singh are in a compulsory MIQ by the New Zealand government,” batter Yastika Bhatia said at the post match press conference on Wednesday after India’s 18-run defeat in the one-off T20I here.
The Indian team had undergone a 10-day MIQ in Christchurch on its arrival to New Zealand.

“That’s all we can say at the moment,” Bhatia said about the situation without giving any more details on when the three players would be available to play.

The Indian team had undergone a week of hard quarantine in Mumbai before its departure for New Zealand on January 24.

To reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak, New Zealand Cricket had moved all of India’s fixtures, including a T20I and five ODIs, to Queenstown.

The bilateral series is a key assignment for India ahead of the 50-over World Cup in March-April in New Zealand.

In Mandhana’s absence, Bhatia opened the batting alongside young Shafali Verma and was India’s second highest run scorer in the game with a run-a-ball 26.

“There’s a lot of wind so we need to assess the wind and hit out shots accordingly,” Bhatia said when asked about the conditions.

“The more we hit our shots flatter the better. And we need to time the ball better rather than hitting hard.”
The 21-year-old underlined the importance of the tour ahead of the upcoming 50-over World Cup.

“This tour is very important, we are getting a series here in these conditions. We need to do well and develop the confidence so that we are well prepared for the World Cup,” she said.

Sabbhineni Meghana, who last played for India in December 2016, was the top-scorer for the visitors, hitting 37 off 30 balls. The 25-year-old said she played her natural game.

“I was told day before that I was playing so I was prepared. My aim was to play my natural game without taking any pressure. With the form I had in domestic cricket I just wanted to continue with the same confidence,” Meghana, who was also present at the press conference, said.

“I have worked on my batting, I have always been an attacking batter so I worked on being consistent and also on my fitness,” she added.

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