Smriti Mandhana could solely be 23, however she says she feels older. But naturally—the southpaw’s fellow opener in India’s T20I workforce is 15-year-previous Shafali Verma, and at No three comes Jemimah Rodrigues, 19. Mandhana is the one non-teen within the workforce’s high three.
“It’s funny, because earlier, I used to have questions about how you coped with the seniors in the team, and now I get questions about how you’re guiding these juniors,” Mandhana mentioned in a chat with HT after the launch of Power footwear, of which she is the model ambassador.
As India gear up for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia beginning subsequent month—the workforce depart for Australia on Thursday—Mandhana, who’s the vice-captain, believes these fearless kids will maintain the important thing to the workforce doing higher than its semi-last exhibiting within the 2018 version.
“The type of characters that these kids are, I don’t suppose they’ve any baggage. Especially Shafali; she is that typical Haryana lady. She gained’t suppose an excessive amount of: if the primary ball is to be hit, she’s going to hit it within the stands. She gained’t suppose, ‘What if I get out?’ And that’s a actually constructive signal, particularly in T20s as a result of that’s what is required. You should be fearless in T20 cricket.
“And Jemi (Jemimah) performs the anchor function to present that a lot-wanted stability to our batting order,” Mandhana mentioned.
In November final 12 months, Mandhana and Verma mixed to report India’s highest partnership in a girls’s T20I, notching up 143 within the first T20I towards the West Indies at Gros Islet. Verma’s explosive entry into the Indian workforce barely a couple of months earlier than that match made Mandhana—a laborious-hitting batswoman herself—delve into whether or not she wanted to change her fashion of play because the senior.
“I had thought about it, actually, whether I should change my game a little or not. But then six overs, 70 runs, no one would mind, right?” she mentioned.
“So then I decided not to change the way I play, especially in the powerplay. After six overs, we might decide that one has to stay and one has to go for it. But I don’t think that she will stay, so I’ll have to do that,” Mandhana added with a chuckle.
Adaptability isn’t a difficulty for the Sangli-based lady. Mandhana completed 2019 as India’s main run-scorer in each ODIs (423 runs in seven matches @70.50) and T20Is (405 runs in 14 matches @31.15), proving her price as the ladies workforce’s most treasured participant.
Does she really feel a sense of duty of carrying a bulk of the workforce’s batting workload?
“I don’t think like that,” Mandhana mentioned. “Whenever I go out to bat, my only responsibility is to look at the scoreboard and think what India needs from me at this moment. I don’t think that I’ve scored these many runs or I’ve achieved these things, because I believe it is something that doesn’t help me. Whenever I go out to bat, it’s a fresh start. I like to keep it very simple. And anyway, my memory is not that good.”
She approaches the T20 Worlds with a easy but profound shift in perspective that permits her to be stress-free: “I’m not preparing for the World Cup; I’m preparing for the Australian wickets. And that’s all I have been focusing on for the last 10 days. Physically, mentally and form-wise, I think I’m in a good space.”
Mandhana is without doubt one of the few Indian gamers to have plied her commerce in girls’s T20 leagues world wide and is accustomed to Australian situations, the place she performs for the Women’s Big Bash League workforce Brisbane Heats.
“It’s definitely made me a better T20 player, because when you go there and see all the other girls hit so big, you feel like, ‘Okay you need to work a lot on yourself’,” Mandhana mentioned.
“As a young player, when I saw those girls hitting that far, I came back and spoke to my coaches and my father that I need to get there too. It was a good self-realisation for me,” she added.
Mandhana says the workforce can’t wait to start out their marketing campaign in Australia.
“In the last one year, we’ve only been planning towards the World Cup, and what can be done from the team’s perspective. So, finally that we are leaving, it’s quite exciting. If all the 15 players give their best, I think we will end up winning the World Cup.”
Mandhana and her successor within the batting line up, Rodrigues, share a raucous relationship off the sphere (they usually put up movies on social media collectively beneath #WrongSisters), and a prolific one on it (they’ve scored 404 runs in 14 T20I innings collectively).
“I was her first room-mate when she got here into the Indian workforce in 2018. Since then, our relationship started rising and we began speaking about cricket a lot. We additionally began understanding one another’s batting rather well, which is a good signal as a result of then we are able to inform one another the place we’re going incorrect and what we’re doing properly.
“But she is a fully completely different character when she bats. The quantity she talks off the sphere—and it’s a lot—she doesn’t even say one phrase whereas batting,” Mandhana mentioned, her grin intact.
‘Unfair to demand same pay as men’
Smriti Mandhana mentioned it was unfair to count on the BCCI to pay girls cricketers on the identical scale as their male counterparts.
“We need to understand that the revenue which we get is through men’s cricket. The day women’s cricket starts getting revenue, I will be the first person to say that we need the same thing. But right now, we can’t say that,” Mandhana mentioned.
“I don’t think any of the team-mates are thinking about this gap because the only focus right now is to win matches for India, get the crowds in, get the revenue. That is the thing which we are aiming for and if that happens, all other things are going to fall in place.”