"We are aggressive enough to defeat them (Australia)": Smriti Mandhana

Women's CricZone Staff
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Match Preview: New Zealand vs India - Match 1

Smriti Mandhana in action. ©ICC

India claimed a 52-run win over Ireland in their group game; which eventually set the stage of India's play in the semi-final. Mithali Raj once again smashed another half-century and along with her, bowlers guide India to reach the semi-finals of the World T20 after 2010.

"Opening in the World Cup, that's always a real dream for a player," said Smriti Mandhana, who played a steady 33 off 29 against Ireland. As it was raining there, the pitch was not ideal for the match. "It rained quite a bit yesterday and even today morning, so it was a bit damp first two, three overs, but it wasn't that you were not able to play the shorts. If you got time and saw the ball, I think it was a wicket where you can play your shorts."

On the other hand, Ireland couldn't perform well and once again. "We looked at India, tried to put Pakistan behind us, learn from our mistakes, and just try and go better each game. A World Cup is tough for sure. We don't play the high-class sides as often as they play each other. It's a very tough learning curve, and trying put into place small changes two days after a loss like that is difficult," told Isobel Joyce.

Though they have played against India before but this was the first time for them in the shortest format. "We were relishing the chance to bowl at some players like Raj and Kaur."

"140 plus is going to be too much for us probably at the moment to get with the bat. We have consistently made 90 to 100 at this level. We obviously are aiming higher. But probably 120 is -- would've been reachable for us if we were realistic," shared Joyce.

Due to the weather, outfield got slow, India managed to put up 142 there. Though Mandhana thought that they were looking for 165-170. "Definitely we're looking at 165 to 170. I didn't think that 140 was good enough because in T20s you can't keep thinking about wicket and outfield because it's such a fast game that -- and we have 10 wickets to play. So I think we were aiming at 165 to 170, but unfortunately, we could not do that."

Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj opening pair is the most successful for India with two century and five half-century partnerships in T20 formats. Talking about the veteran, Smriti said, "It's fun batting with her, but I think both have different mindsets to go about their game, and we just discussed about the wicket and the bowlers, and yeah, we just give enough freedom to play each other -- like whatever game they have."

India have finally reached the semi-finals and they will face mighty Australia in the last match. While talking about the mindset, she shared, "We will be looking at it as a match only and not just like -- we need to be on the top of the table of this group. That's what our mindset will be, and to go all out. Before coming into the World Cup, Ramesh (Powar) had told us that you have to dominate each and every match, so that is the only mindset which we had the last three matches, and I don't think it will change in the next match. The only mindset will dominate, be aggressive, be yourself. That's it."

Backing India to win the World T20 title, Joyce said, "I think I would love India to win. I think it would be brilliant for women's cricket. I like the way they go about things. They're really an up-and-coming side."

Moreover, she shared the story behind the jersey number. "I got an email a number of years ago saying, You need a shirt number. Myself and my twin sister were together and we said, 33 and 34 sound nice. It looks kind of good. Let's go for that. I quite like that it's a popular number around the world. You can normally find someone on each of the teams in Big Bash or IPL that has the same on the number as me. Yeah, nothing much behind it. I have stuck to it since and it was my number in the Big Bash as well."

While talking about their last group league match, she shared, "I think we'll try not to think about it too much. It's going to be a big celebration afterwards, a celebration of their careers and how much they have given, but I think we will be focused on -- we want to send them off on a high, but don't want to think about that while we're playing."

Clare Shillington and Ciara Metcalfe are set to retire from International cricket after Ireland's match against New Zealand. "It's going to be a big loss to the team, two huge characters and contributors with the ball and the bat. Yeah, we are just going to do our best to do them proud and send them off in good fashion," Joyce added.