Smriti Mandhana has stated that the best performers in each match of the Women’s T20 Challenge were mostly Indian players. This year was the second edition of the T20 tournament and four matches were played among three teams whereas it was a one match exhibition in its inaugural year of 2018.
The Women’s T20 Challenge this year was played under lights and was telecasted live during prime time. It got quite a lot of attention and the crowd was also very supportive. Smriti Mandhana was awarded the Man of the Match for the first game whereas it was the Supernovas and India T20I skipper Harmanpreet Kaur in the finals. Mumbai batsman Jemimah Rodrigues was the Man of the Series. Young and uncapped Indian players stepped up in every match and Mandhana was delighted that Indian players set the stage on fire.
“If you look at it, the best performers from each match were Indian players so that was the biggest takeaway for us as the Indian team,” she said on the sidelines of the CEAT Cricket Rating Awards 2019, reported Scroll.in.
The next edition of the Women’s T20 World Cup will be played in Australia between February 21 and March 8. The Trailblazers skipper reckoned that the experience in the three team tournament will be of great help down under.
“All the players will be in a similar situation in eight months in the World Cup, playing under lights. (The matches) will help players get used to that in India and with the best of players all over the world, it will give a lot of confidence to all the girls,” she explained.
18-year-old Jemimah amassed the highest 123 runs in three innings, whereas 15-year-old Shafali Varma had scored 31 runs in the second game between Velocity and Trailblazers. 19-year-old Radha Yadav hit the winning runs for Supernovas in the finals in a crunch situation. The ICC Cricket of the year was all praise for the young players.
“All the young players Jemimah, Shafali Verma coming off good, even Radha scoring 10 runs in that last over. This is going to give a lot of confidence to all these youngsters and they will be prepared when they come in and have the same sort of pressure when they play for India,” she expressed.
The Indian team had a mixed run in the T20 format but things have slowly started to change as young hitters have joined the ranks, as pointed out by the southpaw.
“The reason for this change is because the runs in international matches has increased. You are generally chasing a 170 or 180-odd total. Only if the wicket is bad you get to chase 130 or 140, but on a good wicket it is almost above 170. You have to adapt and play that brand of cricket no matter what,” said the 22-year-old.
Earlier, most of the women’s matches were not telecasted on TV but that has changed since the the World Cup in 2017. Indian fans can now watch big hitters Sophie Devine and Suzie bates because of the T20 tournament. Mandhana feels that these factors have enabled the players to score big in the shortest format.
“In the last one two years almost all the matches we play is live. So whichever girl is coming into the team or wanting to be a cricketer is going to watch those matches and what the scoring rates are and what they need to do if they are to come in the Indian team,” explained the Maharashtra batsman.
"In the IPL also you see Devine and Bates, power hitting in the nets hitting so far, you feel like if they can do it even we can do it,” she added.
Women’s cricket has gained traction as the international matches are broadcasted and even the performance of players has gone up by leap and bounds. Mandhana remarked that it is so because they are now accountable for their mistakes.
“I think it is better that you are answerable to something because if you are not, then you don’t really work that hard. When you know your performances are going to be criticised or accepted well, you put your mind into what you do. So it is a good thing that matches are live and people are following it,” she explained.
“I don’t think while batting you look into the camera, we play according to the ball. I don’t think as a batter it is going to matter if the match is live or it is not,” she laughed off.
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