Partnerships key to avoid losing wickets in a cluster, says Mandhana

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India opening batter Smriti Mandhana on Saturday said building batting partnerships will be the key to avoid losing wickets in a cluster in the crucial match against Australia in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup.

India, placed fourth in the points table, have been hit by the pattern of losing wickets in a heap in the tournament.

Against Pakistan, they were 114/6 before Sneh Rana and Pooja Vastrakar saved the day with a 122-run partnership. When facing New Zealand, they were 95/5 and eventually lost by 62 runs.

Against the West Indies, India were 78/3 before Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur slammed centuries for an emphatic win. Against England, India were tottering at 86/7 and were bowled out for 134, losing by four wickets.

“Definitely, we have been losing wickets back-to-back. It’s something that we, as a batting unit, want to address it. 50-overs is all about good partnerships. So, we definitely want to work on it. As set batters, it is more responsibility on that batter to take the game forward from that time when you are able to time the ball well.

“That’s something I will be really conscious about that we don’t have to lose wickets back-to-back and develop a partnership from there because one or two good partnerships will be able to post a good total which we can defend,” said Mandhana in the pre-match virtual press conference.

Mandhana, India’s leading scorer in the tournament with 216 runs, feels that fellow left-hander and all-rounder Deepti Sharma is just a knock away from getting back into scoring ways.

Sharma has made scores of 40, 5, 15 and 0 in four matches of the World Cup. She was at number three for the first two matches before making a move to number four for the last two games.

“As a batting unit, we have to back everyone. She scored a good 40 runs in the first match. But in the last three matches, she was not able to contribute. I am sure that she is just one game away from getting a good score. As a batting unit, we are just there to back everyone because not everyday, seven batters will go and click. Our thing is that whoever two or three (batters) get to time the ball well, it’s their responsibility to play 50 overs and get to a respectable total. So, I don’t think it’s a big worry for us. But I am sure she’s one innings away from a good score.”

Saturday’s match at Eden Park will also be the first meeting between the two teams since the 2017 World Cup semifinal, where Harmanpreet’s 171 led India to a 36-run win at Derby.

Mandhana, who confirmed that Harmanpreet will be fit for the match, felt the Indian team is banking upon their performance against Australia in last year’s three-match series, where India lost 2-1 closely instead of the semifinal win from the 2017 World Cup.

“We all and everyone knows, what has happened in 2017 but I think it’s better that we don’t really think about it. It’s going to be a fresh day (Saturday). More than 2017, we definitely had a word about how we went about in the series against Australia when we were touring Australia (last year) and the kind of cricket we played there and the kind of bowling we did there.

“So that’s something which we have had discussions around and has given a lot of confidence to all the players because we have done well in the recent past against them.

“Definitely, we couldn’t win the series; second match also we almost won against them, so it would have been like a series win. So that’s kind of the brand of cricket we wanted to play and we played there so that’s something which has definitely motivated all the girls to go out there and perform the same way.”

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