India women lost the T20 series against New Zealand. And the margin of White Ferns’ victory is such that it would hurt Harman’s side. You can lose a night’s sleep easily when you lose a contest by 2 runs.
But what would make Harmanpreet Kaur’s girls fret is that they were beaten comprehensively by Amy Satterthwaite’s side. It’s one thing to lose a contest by a dainty margin. It’s something quite other to suffer a whitewash.
And India women suffered a whitewash they’d find hard to forget. While on the one hand, New Zealand women completely outplayed India, on the other, there was but one batswoman who hung in there. And you probably know who that is, right?
It’s not always that bowlers find the upper hand of a team as solid like India and that too convincingly so. But while the White Caps were able to plant thorns in India’s path- having beaten the team successively by 23 runs, 4 wickets, and 2 runs in the 3 T20s (respectively), Smriti Mandhana was able to stand firmly on the thorny path whilst managing to salvage some pride for her nation at least.
In exhibiting some terrific valiance, something that one’s seen the left-hander display on one occasion too many in the past year (as well), Smriti Mandhana collected 180 runs from 3 contests.
In striking 22 boundaries, therefore conjuring 88 of those finely collected runs purely by virtue of some dashing batting, Smriti Mandhana gave Indian fans something to cheer about. Not only did the Mumbai batswoman strike 2 solid fifties, opening her tournament account via a fluent 58 off 34 (at Wellington) and that ballsy 86 of merely 62 balls in the nerve-wracking 2 run loss for India (at Hamilton), she proved that it was entirely possible to not succumb to the fine form of Sophie Devine and Lea Tahuhu, 4 and 3 wickets from the 3-match series, respectively.
Above all, Smriti Mandhana carried forward her dashing form from 2018 into 2019, having exhibited in the previous year the art of striking some cracking fifties with perennial ease, as evident in her ramblings in South Africa (during India’s ODI and T20 series in Protea women’s land) and, later, in the Kia Super League (in England).
That said, what might have caused the Indian women’s cricket team some jitters would certainly have been the fact that it lost all contests it played and had no particular answer for both Tahuhu and Devine, despite having amid its ranks talented names of the class Harmanpreet Kaur with avid youngsters like Jemimah Rodriguez and the experienced Deepti Sharma (45 ODIs, 27 T20s) in the ranks.
That said, it ought to be asked- did Mithali Raj’s absence, who could only play in the final T20- hurt the team big?
That is something that the team can only answer. What’s interesting however is that there’s an immediate chance for Team India to recover from the Kiwi jolt as the English are coming and there’s some lost pride (at the back of the hammering served by New Zealand) has to be recovered. Moreover, the passionate fan, that has begun to break free of the bias the sport’s often been caged in, would want nothing more than this fabulous side to emerge right on top, as India await England at their home next. Right?