At some point in future, Smriti Mandhana will lead India: Ramesh Powar

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“I’m happy with what Mithali is doing at the top” - Ramesh Powar

Ramesh Powar as the India coach. ©Women's CricZone

India head coach Ramesh Powar has said that Smriti Mandhana is being looked at as a leader for the future and she will take up that role when the suitable time comes. Speaking at the media interaction post the culmination of the multi-format series, Powar added that they have achieved the goals they set out to when they started the tour and will be looking to build a pool of players going forward.

“See at some point we have to address some roles for the leadership. There are some talks around it. We will take it after the World Cup and we will decide exactly what (needs to be) happening. We are not going to hurry it up, we will give it good thought and then will we decide what’s happening,” Powar said on Sunday (October 10).

“Smriti has been a consistent performer for us, a patch will come where a player will not score runs but as a unit, we back our players like Smriti Mandhana. We knew she will come good in this tour. We never thought of anything, we just wanted her to spend some time in the middle and which she did.”

“We are looking at her as a leader as always and she has been the vice-captain and at some point, she will lead this side. I don’t know the format now; BCCI, the selectors and me will get together and decide the next course of action.”

25-year-old Mandhana has been the highest run-getter in the series with 352 runs across formats. She scored an 86 in the second ODI and followed it up with her maiden century in Tests when she scored 127 in India’s first innings during the pink-ball Test in Carrara. She finished the tour on a high with a fifty in the final match of the series when she scored 52 in the last T20I on Sunday.

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“The way she batted in Test match was amazing, something which all of us take a lot of pride in. Playing pink-ball Test under lights for the first time, losing toss, wicket was helpful (for the bowler) and she scored a hundred. It makes a huge impact on young generation because she inspires a lot of our current team players and it makes a huge difference to all of us,” Powar added.

The southpaw will be now seen in action for defending champion Sydney Thunder in the seventh edition of the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) that’s scheduled to start on October 14.

“Smriti is there, if she gets more consistency, there’s nothing like it. That’s what we addressed after the first ODI and she has applied herself. After one season, you will see a different here. She has been playing around the world. She plays WBBL, she plays (the) Hundred, she gets a lot of game time and that makes a lot of difference because we don’t get that many matches in India,” Powar said while talking about Indian players in the franchise T20 competition.

One of the talking points ahead of the series was the dearth of fast bowling resources for India with the ageing Jhulan Goswami leading the attack in ODIs and Tests. At various points during the tour, rookie Pooja Vastrakar, debutantes Meghna Singh and Renuka Singh were in action and have impressed the head coach with their outings.

“We set some goals and they were achieved. We were looking at seamers attack to support Jhulan. The way Meghna bowled, the way Pooja Vastrakar bowled, the way Renuka bowled in two games in T20I. I think that was the objective, find a pace battery which can invest in and we can carry on with those players in the World Cup,” Powar said.

“We are standing almost at a juncture where Mithali (Raj) and Jhulan will fade away at some point. Getting England tour and then Australia tour makes a huge difference - mainly for young cricketers like Renuka, Meghna, be it Jemimah – because you will be tested against the best. You can go forward from here and build your career. We wanted to test our players and this was the best opportunity.”

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Former India off-spinner Powar believes they are on the right track in building a pool of players for the future and added that there is healthy competition for places in the side with players not taking their places for granted.

“There’s no surety of places, we want to make a healthy competition in our squad. That was the motto for this tour. You don’t take your place for granted; if you are not consistent enough and not playing your primary roles, you will be side-lined,” he said. “We want to keep the healthy competition going in the in the team, we don’t want someone to take their place for granted.”

Apart from Meghna and Renuka, the tour also saw batter Yastika Bhatia making her debut in international cricket while Richa Ghosh made her debut in ODIs as a wicket-keeper batter.

“You have seen Richa Ghosh playing ODIs, you have seen Yastika Bhatia getting chance straight away. We wanted to give Yastika a chance because we thought she is a left-hander and she made a difference in the series. Lot of behind the curtain’s things are happening, we think a lot with the selectors and we are looking at a pool of players.” Powar concluded.