Smriti Mandhana admitted that the Indian middle-order was a cause for concern heading into the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup next week and said that the onus was on someone from the top order to bat out 20 overs.
The left-handed opener is the star of Indian batting lineup, and after finishing as the highest run-scorer in the recent tri-series between India, England and Australia, all eyes will be on her at the marquee tournament. She leads the potent top-order along with teen sensations Shafali Verma and Jemimah Rodrigues with captain Harmanpreet Kaur competing the top four.
However, just like in the tri-series final where she scored a sublime half-century, her wicket often triggers a collapse. Mandhana believes the best way to avoid that happening again is for someone from the top-order carrying their bat.
“The best way to support the middle order is for the top order to bat 20 overs,” the 23-year-old Mandhana was quoted as saying by International Cricket Council. “I think we need to try and bat long as a top four. We must try not to get out in the 16th or 17th over and the problem will be sorted if we can stay until the 20th over.”
“The middle order could definitely improve. There are some things we still have to figure out with our batting and we are trying hard to do that,” the Indian vice-captain added.
It is a middle-order collapse that led to defeat in the 2017 World Cup Final as well as in the semi-finals of the last T20 World Cup.
The pattern was repeated again in the 11-run defeat to Australia in the final of their recent tri-series. After Mandhana’s departure in the 15th over, five wickets fell for 12 runs in the space of four overs.
That was in stark contrast to India’s comfortable seven-wicket win in a record chase of 177 to beat Australia in the league stage, losing only three wickets as Mandhana made 55 and Verma blasted 49 from 28 balls with Kaur, a regular thorn in Australia’s side, finishing the job.
When the Indian top order gets going, there is little to stop them and Australia head coach Matthew Mott believed that India are the most feared batting line-up at the T20 World Cup.
Mandhana, on her part, agreed with that sentiment.
“We can be very unpredictable on our day, but I’d like to agree,” she said. “We have some great batters and our order is very balanced. The top four or five are quite settled. We’ve had the same top five for the last year and that’s been a good thing for us.”
India take on hosts and defending champions Australia in the T20 World Cup opener on Friday.