In the current tour, Bangladesh women have forced a star-studded Indian batting lineup to struggle on some difficult pitches designed for their spinners.
Smriti Mandhana, the vice captain of India, is one player who has had trouble scoring runs. Mandhana, a free-flowing stroke maker, hasn’t reached top gear yet on this trip. She broke a run of 11, 1, and 13 with a 58-ball 36 in the second ODI.
By providing the opener little to no forward pace, Bangladesh has done their research. Her method of dismissal—out to spin in four of the five innings—reflected this. It’s unlikely that Bangladesh will want to alter that strategy when the teams play the last ODI on Saturday.
Mandhana acknowledged that she hasn’t been able to put in as much effort as she would have liked. But she made it clear that she was making every effort to rip apart that spotty form.
“I think I’ve been batting well in the nets; in matches as well, I’ve been getting starts,” Mandhana said. “It doesn’t happen a lot of times that I’m middling the ball but not getting runs for the team. I’ve been working on it.
“In the last match, I was pretty positive in the way I was able to get the team off to a decent start, but I threw my wicket away. It’s more about application. Batting-wise, it’s going well but it’s just that my application hasn’t been the way I’ve always applied myself. That’s something I’ve been working on.”
Mandhana hasn’t played much cricket lately, like the rest of the Indian team. The club had two months off following the Women’s Premier League’s (WPL) inaugural season in March. The senior players were only called in for two weeks while a targeted squad of players enjoyed a month-long fitness camp.
Mandhana had a mediocre performance in the WPL despite multiple impressive beginnings to the competition. The team she coached, Royal Challengers Bangalore, ultimately came in fifth place out of six teams, with Mandhana scoring 149 runs in eight games at a strike rate of 111.19, which is significantly lower than her T20I strike rate of 123.49.
“After the WPL, we didn’t have a lot of tournaments. I’ve put in a lot of work in the last three months, both in terms of my cricket and batting. I haven’t been able to convert into big scores but the kind of work I’ve put in, it will reflect soon and I’ll get consistent scores.”
“These wickets need a lot more application than a flat track. I won’t say it suits our style of batting, but it’s about how we adapt.”