Smriti Mandhana at the press conference. ©ICC

Ahead of her first T20I series as captain against England, Indian Captain Smriti Mandhana said,“I think preparation won’t change. I think as a vice-captain I have been attending all the meeting of strategies and all so I don’t think preparation will change. I will take extra efforts to speak to the bowlers and otherwise, it’s going to the same.”  

The India squad includes three new faces – Vidarbha players Bharti Fulmali and Komal Zanzad who have earned their maiden India call-up and Harleen Deol, who recently replaced Harmanpreet Kaur in the ODI squad.

Zanzad was introduced in the T20I squad after her terrific performance in the Board President’s XI and the recent domestic season. Mandhana said when asked about her, “I think she has been really good. She had a good Challenger trophy and I followed her during my Big Bash. When I played with her during the Board President’s XI, I was really impressed with the way she was bowling and the control she has. She has a bright future.”

Another novel introduction is of Harleen Deol who replaced Harmanpreet Kaur in the ODI side and now is likely to open alongside her skipper in the T20I format. She couldn’t make a mark on her debut in the 1st ODI. “I think she is a brilliant player for T20. She is the perfect all-rounder for this format. She can bowl you those two-three crucial overs and she is brilliant as batter and fielder. Hopefully, she will have a good role to play in the future,” certified the captain.

Earlier this year, New Zealand clean swept the T20I series against India after winning the ODIs 2-1.

“We have spoken about what we have lagged in the New Zealand tour and our batting order will be shaped for the next World cup. It’s really an exciting time as we have such a young side and just to see where all the players would be down 6-7 months,” said Mandhana.

The debate on the opening partner for the new skipper is still on. Mandhana said, “As set players, we need to talk (about) more responsibility and then give confidence. Hopefully, the discussed batting order will come out good tomorrow.”

“The Guwahati reception has been brilliant. Players are happy the way we are getting the response and this will help women’s cricket in a big way. More the crowd and the more you enjoy playing,” she added.

About her captaincy, “I would like to see all the teammates help them grow in any way possible.”

The star performer of India also said, “I don’t really like to mix captaincy and batting together. Batting is a totally different aspect for me and so is captaincy. I won’t mix them up as it will complicate me much more. Batting wise thinking, I am the captain and that responsibility might (help me) play all the 20 overs and win matches for India you never know.”

India beat England 2-1 in ODI series. England hasn’t been on the top of their performance. Mandhana was asked whether she thinks ‘England is easy competition’ on which she replied, “It’s a completely different format. England is a great opposition absolutely at par with us and it will be a good contest and I don’t look at it as an easy match or anything.”

“As a kid to think about winning the world cup and also being ICC World No 1. After I became No 1, I realised it is much more important to stay than getting there. A small goal as an individual was being No. 1 and the big goal is World Cup,” said Mandhana when asked about her long term and short term goal.

“We definitely (are) looking to win the series and not just audition of new faces. It’s a really exciting team and it’s important that we believe that we are going into the series to win the series and not the sake of experimenting. The first goal is to win the series and then is to find new faces for the world cup,” Mandhana concluded.

India will play England in T20I series starting tomorrow (March 4).