It was a night where barely anything went right for Harmanpreet Kaur-led India. They lost the toss, they were apparently not happy with the conditions of the ground in Durham with a spell of rain earlier causing wet patches in the outfield, the batting collapsed in the back-end yet again after a decent start, the fielding was a nightmare made worse by said conditions and the catching wasn’t great either. It resulted in Amy Jones-led England winning the first T20I by nine wickets with seven overs to spare.

The turnaround is quick though, and India will be looking to put behind one of their worst all-round performances (even without accounting for conditions) in recent times. This is a side that only just recently won the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, defeating England along the way, and they are capable of better. That was the message from vice captain Smriti Mandhana as she hoped for a better batting performance in the second match in Derby on Tuesday.

“I don’t think we played the brand of cricket we have played in the last couple of months. So definitely we are very disappointed,” Mandhana said in the pre-match press conference. “But I think we just took it as one bad day and we know that we have to come back harder and match the standards we have set for ourselves as a team.”


The elegant left-hander backed up what skipper Harmanpreet Kaur had to say after the loss in the first game. India have a right to be aggrieved that the conditions were not fit for an international game at Chester-Le-Street and no team has to put up with such a situation just because of what time of the year they are playing in. Having said that, India’s performance on the night went beyond just dealing with slippery conditions and Mandhana knows that.

“I think definitely the conditions were not really up to the mark to play an international cricket match. There were a lot of patches on the field which were really wet and a lot of areas where there was risk for injury. But I would say we won’t use it as an excuse to tell that we actually had a bad day because of that,” Mandhana said.

“We definitely didn’t play the kind of cricket we had to. I’m sure that the whole team will reflect upon this match, saying that we didn’t actually play the cricket we have been playing and come back harder in the second match. As a batting unit, definitely, we have not been doing our best from the 12th to 20th overs. Those are areas where even at CWG there was a match or two where we actually could not get to a score from where we started off. We want to address that as a team.”

Indeed, even before the series began, Harmanpreet had identified batting in the back-end of innings as a concern that they want to address. The selections of Hemalatha Dayalan and Kiran Prabhu Navgire were made based on that. The former was making a comeback to international cricket while the latter made her debut, and both struggled for momentum on the night against a quality England attack. Mandhana said they must be given time to get going and that they are not worried about one failure.

“Hemalatha has come into the team after a long time and it was Kiran’s debut, so we have to give them enough time to show what they are capable of. That was not a huge worry in the dressing room. But definitely I think we all spoke about the intent of the whole team, that’s one thing we all really want to get better and come back in the second match,” Mandhana added.

The opening batter later added that 160 is a target they should aim for on most days while the total will depend on the conditions.

“Given the standard of T20 cricket these days, we have to score somewhere around 160 to 170 to be on the safer side. But that also depends on the nature of the wicket.

“Post CWG, I feel it is Harman, Jemimah or my responsibility to take the team through in the 20 overs. But, given it is T20 cricket, we had to address a few issues in the middle order. We have introduced the likes of Hemalatha and Kiran into the mix. Richa Ghosh has also come back to strengthen that area. But, you have to give them time to perform to get to that level. Hopefully that’s the solution to overs 12-20, we try and provide the cushion to them in international cricket because they are proven performers in domestic cricket,” she added.

Might skip WBBL

From the domestic season that started post the World Cup earlier this year, Mandhana has been busy with game-time internationally as well as in The Hundred. She said she is happy to have such a busy schedule but hinted she could pull out of the Women’s Big Bash League.

“I have been on the road for a while now. Post the one-day World Cup, I have been on the road with domestic cricket and the tournaments you mentioned. I just try to tell myself that because of Covid we haven’t really played a lot of cricket and we really hoped that we came back and started playing. And now, I can’t be complaining that we have a lot of cricket on the platter. As a woman player we always wanted this sort of schedule for us,” she said.

“I’m really happy to be playing so much cricket and I’ve had my family over, like my mom is over here and she was here for the Hundred as well. So that also helps to be in a good mindset and the team-mates have been just amazing. It feels like we’re a family together.

“I think more than the mental part, it’s about managing a little bit of physical part. Definitely, I’ll be thinking about pulling out of WBBL because I don’t want to miss out on playing for India or having any niggles when I play for India because I want to give my 100% when I play international cricket. So definitely, I’ll be thinking about playing or pulling out of Big Bash.”


India: Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Jemimah Rodrigues (not available), Sneh Rana, Renuka Singh, Meghna Singh, Radha Yadav, S Meghana, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Dayalan Hemalatha, Simran Dil Bahadur, Richa Ghosh and Kiran Prabhu Navgire.

England: Amy Jones (captain and wk) Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Sarah Glenn, Freya Kemp, Bryony Smith, Issy Wong and Danni Wyatt, Alice Davidson-Richards.

Match starts at 10.30pm IST.

You can watch Smriti Mandhana’s press conference here