Ahead of the third T20I against England, senior Indian batter Smriti Mandhana has stated that there is a lot of scope for improvement in the team and they need to work hard in all the departments. She also added that the tour of Australia will be important for India's preparation for the World Cup.
After reaching the high of qualifying for the finals of the last T20 World Cup, the Indian women's side have put up disappointing performances. They lost the ODI and T20I series at home against South Africa 1-4 and 1-2 respectively. They played out of their skin to draw the one-off Test against England but then again faced defeat in the ODI series 1-2. However, the Women in Blue can turn around their fortunes if they win the T20I series decider against England.
Two things have emerged from the tour so far - India's need to improve their batting and turn more consistent on the bowling front. There is no dearth of talent but somehow, the performances don't quite align on the field. Senior Indian batter Smriti Mandhana touched upon these points, ahead of the series decider against England, and stated that they need to work on a lot of things ahead of the World Cup.
"We have to work on a lot of things, especially in the batting department. Going forward, the next seven months will be really crucial. We have to start putting up good scores. If I talk about the ODI format, we have to start posting 250-260-plus scores consistently while batting first, that's something we have to work on," Mandhana said in a virtual press conference.
"And of course, our bowling and fielding can get consistent. We are probably one good performance (away) and then becoming okay, so I think we can be consistent in that department as well," she said.
The next women's World Cup will be held in New Zealand. So, India's tour of Australia, later this year, will assume great significance in their preparations for the ICC mega event, which has eluded the women's side pretty much like the country's men unit. Mandhana also knows the importance of the tour Down Under.
"Next seven months will be very crucial to get ourselves ready before the World Cup (in New Zealand). Of course, the Australia series will also going to be big in terms of preparations for the World Cup," said Mandhana.
There was a time when Smriti Mandhana was the brightest opener for India. Then emerged Shafali Verma, who's not only doing a great job for India but is the biggest young star in the very sport, even if we consider men's cricket, let alone women's cricket. Mandhana reflected on the experience of opening alongside her and remarked that it's an exciting thing to partner the teenager.
"For about two years now, I've been opening with her in the T20 format. It's really exciting to open with her in all three formats. We know each other, have conversations. It really helps, especially in T20 format. But we have to work on how to carry on till 15-16th over.
"We have had discussions about the middle overs and death overs and how we can get better. Losing wickets too many at a time puts a break in run-rate and puts pressure on the new batters. It has happened in previous formats as well. We all have understood our mistakes and will hope to rectify them," she said.