Smriti Mandhana was the star performer of the India women’s cricket team during the ODIs, scoring 90 and 105 and helping India to a 2-1 series win. In the Wellington T20I, Mandhana continued her impressive run and smashed the fastest fifty by an Indian in this format. Her partnership of 98 with Jemimah Rodrgiues had put India on course for a win in their pursuit of 160. However, the dismissal of Rodrigues and Mandhana’s departure for 58 off 34 balls tilted the balance in New Zealand’s favour. India lost nine wickets for 34 runs to lose the match by 23 runs and trail the three-match series 0-1.
Speaking after the end of the match, Mandhana criticised the middle order’s collapse and said in a chase, she would have to bat the full duration if the team had a chance to win. “I would say I have to bat till 20 overs, that is the best option. The more I bat till 18 overs, we won't collapse because if the top three or four batters can bat till the 18-20th overs then the rest can revolve around them. So tactically that is what I will try to do. My wicket along with Jemimah's turned out to be crucial. If you get out back-to-back in T20s, it proves costly,” Mandhana said.
In the World T20 semi-final against England in North Sound Antigua, India had collapsed from a strong position to lose tamely to England. India lost eight wickets for 23 runs and they were dumped out from the competition with many India fans raising questions on Mithali Raj’s omission. In this match, the lack of a finisher hurt India with skipper Harmanpreet Kaur also struggling.
“The way we played the ODI series, even today we were cruising till the 12th over but in T20s there is always a collapse. So, the next time we have to keep that in mind as a batting unit. Being 1-0 down, we will be under the pump, everyone will be aiming to be better than what we were today and win the next two matches for India, that is what we are thinking and not what happened (in this match),” Mandhana said.
Sophie Devine blasted 62 and she was ably assisted by skipper Amy Satterthwaite’s 33 and Katey Martin’s unbeaten 27 off 14 balls that helped New Zealand reach 159/4. In response, the New Zealand bowlers did not get bogged down by the Mandhana-Rodrigues partnership. Led by Leah Tahuhu’s 3/20, Leigh Kasperek’s 2/25 and Amelia Kerr’s 2/28, New Zealand won the match by 23 runs. The next match will be in Seddon Park, Hamilton on Friday.