Smriti Mandhana after hitting a century. ©Getty Images

In 2016, I watched as Smriti Mandhana tore into Sri Lanka’s bowling attack at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. It was a practice match ahead of the World T20, and Mandhana was coming off a successful tour of Australia, where she had scored her first international century. She was batting at No.3 in that 

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New Zealand celebrate the wicket of India captain Harmanpreet Kaur. ©Getty Images

Auckland, Wellington and Hamilton. Three different venues, three types of surfaces, but much the same story for India all three times – they got themselves into winning positions and then found a way to lose from there. In the final T20I against New Zealand at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Sunday (February 10), India faltered 

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Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur in action. ©BCCI

“Tactically, definitely, 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… the top order, if they bat till 18-20 overs, it becomes very easy for the (rest of the) batting unit to just revolve around that batter. That 

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White Ferns celebrating. ©Getty Images

New Zealand were slow out of the blocks, poor with both bat and ball and quite muddled in their approach through the first two ODIs of their three-match series against India. They just didn’t ‘turn up’. Like good hosts (athithi devo bhavah and all that) they allowed India to build their confidence early in the series 

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Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues. ©BCCI

“I can’t think of a better display from an opening partnership, men or women, for a long, long time,” said Emily Drumm, former New Zealand captain-turned-commentator. India were sitting pretty on 166 for no loss in the 30th over, with Smriti Mandhana hurtling towards her fourth ODI century, batting on 88, and Jemimah Rodrigues with 

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Amy Satterthwaite and Mithali Raj with the trophy accompanied by Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli. ©BCCI

In the 42 years, since they played their first (official) Test, India have only travelled to New Zealand six times, but every journey has thrown up a significant event in the team’s history. In 1977, Shantha Rangaswamy scored the country’s first ever century in a Test match in Dunedin. In the 1982 World Cup, they 

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South Africa team. ©ICC

In 2016, I watched as South Africa struggled through the World Twenty20 in India. While the bowlers brought their ‘A’ game to the tournament, it was the batting unit that let them down. Mignon du Preez, then captain of South Africa, sat through the press conferences dejected, unable to explain why her batters were struggling 

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