After 40 overs of second women’s T20I between India and Australia, both teams had finished on 187 each. For 45,238 people and more cheering for the hosts at the DY Patil Stadium, the nervous pangs were making way for some more nail-biting action.
For a team which had been on the losing side against Australia in close matches in the past, they did well to keep their nerve and make 20/1 in their six balls, and kept Australia five runs short to seal a humdinger of a victory. Left-handed opener Smriti Mandhana was one of the main architects of the Indian win, slamming 79 in the chase, before making 13 off three balls in the Super Over.
But in the post-match press conference, she admitted to being blank over approaching the Super Over, which India were featuring in for the first time in T20Is and that her mind opened up when young Richa Ghosh smacked the first ball of Super Over to long-on for six off debutant Heather Graham.
“I have played few Super Overs when I was there in Maharashtra and in little bit of Big Bash, where I had played a few Super Overs. I was pretty blank. I did not think that I would have to do this. When Richa (Ghosh) hit that first six, I was excited and I am not a very out-there person, who people can understand what is going on in my head, but that six was so massive that I was like, ‘wow’!”
“After she got out, me and Harman (captain Harmanpreet Kaur) spoke about it and we knew that we could not afford to lose wickets. So, we just had to try and hit the boundary, rather than hitting a six. Because, this is a different rule as compared to the Big Bash, where all ten could bat.”
“But here it was different. If we would have got out, our innings would have ended there. So, we had to be a bit smart and try and hit boundaries. I had actually aimed at a boundary but it went for a six. I was just really, really blank.”
On Sunday, Smriti was at her elegant best while treating every bowler with utmost disdain in her 49-ball knock. It felt like she would take India single-handedly to victory, before she chopped on while trying to play a scoop off Annabel Sutherland. While Richa would enthrall with three huge sixes in her 13-ball 26 not out to force a tie, Smriti was left to rue over the shot which caused her downfall.
“While chasing, I did not want to make the same mistake that I did in the last match. Once a wicket falls, we get stuck for a few overs in terms of run rate, so in my head, I was trying to take it deep. I trusted people around me to hit sixes and I wanted to be there. Unfortunately, I do not know what shot I played!”
“When I was walking back after playing that shot, I told Richa, ‘Khatam kar ke aana hai (Come after finishing it off).’ She replied, ‘haan didi’ (Yes elder sister). I knew she would finish it off. I would have loved to be on the other end, but next time, I would try not to hit a stupid shot. Right from the Commonwealth Games, I have been timing well.”
With the five-match series levelled at 1-1, Smriti insisted the team is trying to adapt themselves in getting close matches in their favour, something she feels will be a huge confidence booster.
“Australia is an amazing team. But we all back ourselves. We have given them amazing fights, but close matches are something that the whole Indian team is trying to work on. Not many things go our way, but people are adapting to the pressure. Chasing 45 off 25 balls, maybe a year ago, the Indian team would have thought otherwise, but we have match-winners now.”
“The way Deepti, Richa, Devika batted, they are developing well. This game is going to help massively. The T20 World Cup is still some time away, but our first aim is to win this series. The way the first game went, to come back and win it in this fashion, that is going to boost up the confidence of all the girls.”