Smriti Mandhana: Indian middle-order could definitely improve

Opener Smriti Mandhana believes India’s top-order needs to bat long to protect the inconsistent middle-order during the Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia.

Smriti Mandhana

Smriti Mandhana was the highest run scorer in the recently concluded tri-series involving India, Australia and England.   -  Getty Images

Indian opener Smriti Mandhana says the best way to protect the team's middle-order is for the top four to bat long at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia. India’s top order sees Mandhana joined by teen sensations Shafali Verma and Jemimah Rodrigues as well as captain Harmanpreet Kaur.

But wounds of the middle-order collapse that led to defeat in the 2017 Cricket World Cup final are yet to heal. India was looking well-placed in its chase of 228 three years ago but lost its last seven wickets for 28 runs to lose out to England by just nine runs at Lord’s, London.

“The middle-order could definitely improve,” said the 23-year-old Mandhana, who became the third Indian to reach 1,000 T20I runs at the 2018 T20 World Cup.

READ | Smriti Mandhana rises to fourth in ICC T20I rankings

“There are some things we still have to figure out with our batting and we are trying hard to do that. The best way to support the middle order is for the top order to bat 20 overs. I think we need to try and bat long as a top-four. We must try not to get out in the 16th or 17th over and the problem will be sorted if we can stay until the 20th over.”

India’s soft centre was once again exposed in defeat to Australia in the final of its recent tri-series, also involving England. After Mandhana’s departure in the 15th over, five wickets fell for 12 runs in the space of four overs. That was in stark contrast to India’s improbable chase of 177 to beat Australia in the round-robin stage, losing only three wickets as Mandhana made 55 and Verma slashed 49 from 28 balls.

It’s no surprise that Australia head coach Matthew Mott feels India is the most feared batting line-up at the World T20 and Mandhana agrees with that sentiment.

“We can be very unpredictable on our day, but I’d like to agree (with Mott),” she said. “We have some great batters and our order is very balanced. The top four or five are quite settled. We’ve had the same top five for the last year and that’s been a good thing for us.”

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