India vs South Africa: Smriti Mandhana hopeful of a fresh start in T20Is

Hard-hitter Shafali Verma is set to return but captain Harmanpreet Kaur's hip injury is a big blow ahead of the three-match T20I series.

Smriti Mandhana will lead the side in the first T20 against South Africa.   -  FILE PHOTO/ GETTY IMAGES

After losing 1-4 in the ODI series, the Indian eves will be hoping to start the three-match T20I contest against South Africa on a positive note in Lucknow on Saturday.

They will miss skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, who sustained a hip adductor strain during the fifth ODI, but stand-in captain Smriti Mandhana is confident ahead of the opener. “We had a discussion on how to go about our preparation and what went wrong in the ODI series and how to go forward. We now need to concentrate on the T20s,” Mandhana said on Friday.

“The ODI series was a disappointment but we need to forget that and move ahead. Some new faces have come in the team, so we need to think fresh,” the seasoned campaigner said.

READ| Harmanpreet Kaur ruled out of first T20I against South Africa

After missing out on the ODI series, batter Shafali Verma will be back in action in the T20I series and is likely to open the innings with Mandhana.

India opener Shafali Verma in action at the T20 World Cup in 2020.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

So far, the home team’s fielding has been sloppy and Mandhana admits the errors. “We have been in the process in the last 3-4 years. Few catches have dropped in the ODIs, but we need to get on with a fresh mind in the T20 series,” she added.

Mandhana backed the spinners to hit the right lengths. “Spinners are our biggest strength. Definitely, they were not bad but inconsistent in their bowling [in the ODIs]. But if we keep pitching the ball in the same areas, it will become difficult for batters.”

This will be India's first international T20I outing since the World Cup final against Australia in March 2020.

Is The Hundred on the cards?

Mandhana also confirmed that the BCCI is in talks with the ECB about the participation of the Indian players in The Hundred - which is scheduled to begin on July 21. She clarified that a final call will be taken depending on the schedule of the national side.

READ| India eyes redemption in T20I series against South Africa

“The ECB is in talks with the BCCI but we don't have an update yet about it,” Mandhana said, adding: “Let's see, it will be highly depending on the schedule because our first priority will definitely be the India matches, so I am sure the BCCI and ECB are working towards it and let's hope to hear something around (the tournament) from them soon,” she said.

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