India’s stand-in skipper Smriti Mandhana insisted that the side needed to pull up their socks and get back into rhythm and claimed that the one-year-hiatus cannot be used as an excuse for sustained mediocrity. Mandhana admitted that India deserved to lose the 2nd T20I for the way they fielded.
It was the sixth defeat in seven games since the restart for the Indian Women’s side as South Africa Women, on Sunday, led by fifties from Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt, chased down India’s total of 158 with six wickets in hand to seal the T20I series. Impressive performances from the trio of Shafali Verma, Richa Ghosh, and Harleen Deol propelled India to a very competitive score, but an extremely poor effort on the field - three drop catches and an inexcusable no-ball in the final over - saw the Women in Blue succumb to a fifth straight defeat in the tour as the visitors wrapped up victory to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the T20I series.
Stand-in skipper Smriti Mandhana was miffed by the performance and insisted that India simply cannot be using the ‘lack of game-time’ excuse as a justification for poor performances. Mandhana further claimed that her side deserved to lose the contest for their dismal effort on the field.
"We cannot keep using that as an excuse. We have to pull our socks [up]. We need to get better at that. Definitely, we are practising hard towards that. Hopefully, there will be one odd match where we will get it right and then everything good will start coming,” Mandhana said post the game, reported ESPN Cricinfo.
"It is a bitter pill to swallow. Thought 80 percent of the time it was our game but we could not close it out in the end. Lots of things to learn from the game. Probably the way we fielded, I don't think we deserved to win the game. We have to work on our fielding and probably improve our fielding standards."
Despite the defeat, though, the performance on Sunday was India’s brightest batting display in the tour. Shafali, Harleen and young Richa Ghosh all played invaluable hands and the batters gave it their everything to post a winnable total on the board. Mandhana said that the effort put in with the bat by the youngsters was amazing and claimed that the side had posted enough runs on the board at the half-way mark.
"The way our batters batted, it was amazing to watch, especially all the youngsters - Shafali, Richa, [and] then Harleen in between. The way the built up the partnership and got us to a 150-plus score [was commendable]. I think it was a good total to defend. But, as I said, if we would have done better in the second half of the match… A lot of positives but [there is] a lot of things to work on."
Young Shafali Verma once again played the most impactful knock in the game, striking a power-packed 31-ball 47, but her efforts went in vain as the Proteas batters eventually chased the target down comfortably. The 17-year-old said that it will be of paramount importance for team India to learn from their mistakes, heading into the next match.
"Mistakes in the field are part of cricket. But I hope we learn from the errors we made today because we played well as a team,” Shafali said.
The third and final T20I of the series will be played on Tuesday, March 23, at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow.