Captain Smriti Mandhana ready to take off

In the absence of Harmanpreet Kaur, Mandhana will lead the women’s side against England in the three-match T20I series starting March 4.

Mandhana believes it is important not to think that ‘I am the captain’, as it could add to the pressure.   -  PTI

 

When India’s women’s team begins its T20I campaign against England in Guwahati from Monday, all eyes will be on Smriti Mandhana, who would be leading the side in the absence of Harmanpreet Kaur.

She is gearing up for the challenge. “Of course, I am ready,” she told Sportstar during an interaction at the Wankhede Stadium, a couple of days ago.

“I have been vice-captain for two-and-a-half years now. I have always been giving inputs to Harry di (Harmanpreet) whenever I felt in T20s. I have been playing under a lot of captains, have always learned a lot from everyone, Mithali di (Mithali Raj), Jhulu di (Jhulan Goswami), now it is just about applying that,” Smriti said.

She also believes that it is important not to think that ‘I am the captain’, as it could add to the pressure. “I will do what they want from me, not what I want from them. It is all about what the team requires. I enjoy my batting. I like it. I started playing because I enjoyed it. It is same for captaincy. If I don't enjoy it, it doesn't make sense. It is about enjoying what you do,” Smriti said.

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She was adjudged the Player of the Tournament in the just-concluded ODI series. And ahead of the new responsibility, she is gaining confidence from her past experiences of leading Maharashtra at an early age. “If you look back at my career, I was 16 or 17 when I became the state captain. I have been leading India 'A' or Challengers teams since 18. Captaincy is not something that is very new to me. International captaincy is totally different, but in the T20 Challenger match we played last year, I was captain. That match definitely made me think, ‘I can do this’. Before that, I had doubt, but that match helped. After that, I said to myself, ‘it's okay. I can do it’,” she said.

But to her relief, Mithali will be around in the T20s, so in case things look difficult, she can consult the ODI captain. “Harry di won’t be there, but Mithali di will be around. I am sure, if at all there is something (that needs to be addressed), I will have someone to fall back on,” she said.

“Mithali di is very calm on the ground, be it a catch drop or a boundary. That’s a good quality I would like to take. Harry di is very active and is always on your face. I would like to have a mix of both, but it’s not about copying anyone,” Smriti said, hoping to start her captaincy stint on a winning note.

The Barsapara Stadium in Guwahati will host the three T20Is on March 4, 7 and 9.