In the current tour, Bangladesh women have forced a star-studded Indian batting lineup to struggle on some difficult pitches designed for their spinners.
Smriti Mandhana, the vice captain of India, is one player who has had trouble scoring runs. Mandhana, a free-flowing stroke maker, hasn’t reached top gear yet on this trip. She broke a run of 11, 1, and 13 with a 58-ball 36 in the second ODI.
By providing the opener little to no forward pace, Bangladesh has done their research. Her method of dismissal—out to spin in four of the five innings—reflected this. It’s unlikely that Bangladesh will want to alter that strategy when the teams play the last ODI on Saturday.
Mandhana acknowledged that she hasn’t been able to put in as much effort as she would have liked. But she made it clear that she was making every effort to rip apart that spotty form.
“I think I’ve been batting well in the nets; in matches, as well, I’ve been getting starts,” Mandhana said. “It doesn’t happen often that I’m batting average but failing to generate runs for the club. On it, I’ve been working.
“I was really pleased with how I was able to get the team off to a good start in the last game, but I threw my wicket away. The focus is largely on application. Batting-wise, things are going great, but I haven’t been applying myself the way I typically do. I have been putting some effort into that.
Mandhana hasn’t played much cricket lately, like the rest of the Indian team. The club had two months off following the Women’s Premier League’s (WPL) inaugural season in March. The senior players were only called in for two weeks while a targeted squad of players enjoyed a month-long fitness camp.
Mandhana had a mediocre performance in the WPL despite multiple impressive beginnings to the competition. The team she coached, Royal Challengers Bangalore, ultimately came in fifth place out of six teams, with Mandhana scoring 149 runs in eight games at a strike rate of 111.19, which is significantly lower than her T20I strike rate of 123.49.
“We didn’t have many tournaments after the WPL. In the past three months, I’ve worked extremely hard at both my batting and cricket. The kind of work I’ve done will reflect shortly and I’ll earn consistent results, but I haven’t been able to turn it into significant numbers.
When asked if these wickets fit her team’s playing style, Mandhana chuckled. All of the games were played on two-paced decks at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur, where the ball occasionally kept low and turned or stopped on hitters. It was clear that most Indian batsmen playing on this surface had to significantly alter their natural skills.
Mandhana laughed as he remarked, “These have been challenging wickets to play on, I’m not sure if it suits which style of batting.” “I won’t put too much pressure on the wicket. The effort we put forth in the most recent game to reach 200+ [was excellent]. Compared to a level track, these wickets require a lot more application. I won’t say that it fits our batting style, but it depends on how we adjust. Every time we play, as cricketers, we must follow that rule.
Bangladesh has witnessed a young Marufa Akter emerge within the spin choke. Her ferocious spell in the opening ODI tormented the visitors in a chase of 153, and her career-best four-for helped Bangladesh defeat India in an ODI for the first time. Mandhana gushed over the 18-year-old with compliments.
Mandhana observed, “I think she has a really unusual action. She moves far more quickly than we think she does for her action. Her ball skids more than we would anticipate given her release point. She plays cricket extremely well. After the match, we had a brief conversation in which I thanked her for her efforts. We’re all motivated by it as well.
Regardless of her age, it is fantastic to see the effort she is making for the girls. She will make an incredible cricket player for Bangladesh with the kind of fire she possesses. She bowls at a speed that is perhaps 2 mph faster than you perceive. She isn’t getting as much aid from these wickets, so it will be interesting to see how she does in England and Australia.
In addition, Mandhana praised Bangladesh for making the series much more competitive than many had anticipated. “We played them at the Asia Cup in Sylhet last year, and from then to now, the way they’ve grown, especially as a bowling side,” she added. “I think their fielding work has been outstanding. Their bowling attack is undoubtedly excellent on these wickets, but like I said, for us, it’s about getting better as players.