Finishing off close games has been an achilles heel for the Indian women’s team over the years but the work put in during the last 12 months showed in side’s close win against world champions Australia, said vice-captain Smriti Mandhana.
Mandhana scored 79 off 49 balls as Indian women nearly pulled off their highest ever chase before both teams at tied 187. Mandhana also scored 13 in the Super Over to fashion the win.
“We haven’t come good in close games against them although we have given them a fight. Close matches are something that whole Indian team is trying to work on and it started from the Commonwealth Games semi-final. Some matches have started going our way. People are adapting to pressure and we have a lot of match-winners,” Mandhana said at the post-match press conference on Sunday.
Mandhana said that 45 odd runs off 25 balls is something that even one year back, she wouldn’t have envisaged that the team would be able to chase down.
“If 45 is required off 25 balls, the Indian women’s team, a year back, you never knew and it might not have happened. Now we have Richa, Deepti (Sharma) and we have Devika (Vaidya). They are developing well,” the senior player said.
In fact, she knew that Richa, who hit four towering sixes in all (including one in Super Over) would do something special.
“When I got out (in regulation overs), as I was leaving, I told Richa, match khatam karke aana hai (You have to finish the match) and she replied, “Okay Didi”. I knew she would do something special.” As far as her innings was concerned, it was about taking the game deep till 16th over and taking it from thereon.
“Mumbai tracks are always good for batting and I was disappointed in missing out during the first game. I didn’t want to lose out on the opportunity this time.” She laughed heartily when asked if she had visualised a Super Over and she would be playing a significant role in it.
“I would be lying if I say I visualised. Not even in my dreams I expected a Super Over. Now that it has happened, may be I will visualise that I can do it,” she said adding that she has been a part of Super Overs during the WBBL and for games involving her state side Maharashtra.
Mandhana welcomed BCCI’s move to send Richa and Shafali for playing the U-19 World Cup in South Africa.
“When we were 16 or 17, we used to hear rumours about U-19 women’s World Cup. It will be good for them and also we can play two girls in their places and know what our bench strength is,” Mandhana said.
A crowd of over 25,000 assembled to watch the first WT20I and about 47,000 fans watched the second match.
The team, in a nice little gesture, took a lap of honour to thank the supporters.
“The WIPL has been announced. It is a massive opportunity and a stepping stone. This is the last home series we are playing before WIPL. If people come to watch these matches, I am sure this will give confidence to all those who would bid for the teams,” she said.