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ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020: ‘India’s middle order needs protection’ – Mandhana

Smriti Mandhana
Smriti Mandhana

Smriti Mandhana says the best way to protect India’s middle order is to not require them to bat at all in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.

India’s juggernaut of a top order sees Mandhana joined by teen sensations Shafali Verma and Jemimah Rodrigues as well as captain Harmanpreet Kaur in a fearsome foursome.

But wounds of the middle-order collapse that led to defeat in the 2017 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Final have clearly yet to heal.

India were looking well-placed in their chase of 228 three years ago, but lost their last seven wickets for 28 runs to miss out to England by just nine runs at Lord’s.

“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 Women’s T20 World Cup.

“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 exposed in defeat to Australia in the final of their recent tri-series.

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, then, that Australia head coach Matthew Mott feels India are the most feared batting line-up at the T20 World Cup.

Not even the modest Mandhana could conceal she 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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