Smriti Mandhana at the press conference. ©ICC

Smriti Mandhana has said that it is important to give players a long run for them to showcase their skills instead of constant chopping and changing. India handed Harleen Deol her Twenty20 International debut in the first match against England at the Barsapara Stadium in Guwahati on Monday (March 4).  Veda Krishnamurthy also returned to the side. The batting, however, failed as India lost by 41 runs. Chasing 161, they scored 119 for 6.

“If you look at the number of matches they have played, it’s six to eight. I don’t think it is the right time to experiment. We will have to stick with the same batting order to look forward to, giving them more game time for them to prove,” Mandhana said at the post-match press conference. “You should give enough chances to prove. When we came in the team, , I dont think I started scoring in the second or third match. I think everyone will be getting their chances. We are looking to win the matches rather than experiment.”

Deepti Sharma remained unbeaten on 22, but by the time she came out to bat the game was almost over. “Deepti has been a really important batter for us. She’s been very flexible to change the position for us. I don’t know about ODIs, but in T20s, it is hard to have same kind of batting order because it depends on situation,” Mandhana said when asked about Deepti’s different batting positions over the last few matches. “We might send Deepti early also, like two-down or even afterwards. Hopefully, the way she batted today, I think she can take it forward and win the matches for India when we are just 20-30 runs short.”

India lost Deol, Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues in a space of eight balls to be 23 for 3 in 3.3 overs. Mandhana felt the game was lost there. “There was difference in how we started and how they did. We lost a couple if wickets in the third over,” she said. “I think in ODIs and in T20s, two wickets should not fall in a span of three or four balls. Our top three or four lost their wickets in a short period. I think that makes the batting order very thin. We will work on it. It’s important as a batting unit to take responsibility and chase this kind of total. As a batter who is settled, our top four, we are playing for a long time now. I, Mithali, Jemi have to take more responsibility and bat more and take the time through (the finish line). We have to give a bit of cushion to the youngsters.”

It was Mandhana’s first match as India’s captain. She became the third youngest skipper for India. Mithali and Diana Edulji were 21 years old when they had first led in ODIs. Mandhana looked reactive rather than proactive on the field.

“It was the first time I was leading for India. Good experience. Lot of  takeaways. As a captain, I need to learn from the mistakes I did today and also as a player.  I don’t think the field setting was based on reactions. We had two sets of plan for each batter,” she added. “So when the first plan wasn’t working, we went with the second. It was not due to where the batsmen was hitting the ball. Definitely, next time we will plan much better. and I will be more proactive.”

Mandhana liked the way Deol batted on her debut. “The way she was batting she was looking very positive and she was looking very good. I don’t think there is any problem in that even if  she got out. Because I just want the players to look confident. If they are confident enough, I don’t look at what they have scored,” she said. “So definitely, as I said earlier, we are (not) looking at too many changes just because we lost the first match. It is just her first match. We just expect her to go out and play. She will be getting her chance.”

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