‘Bowlers Did a Good Job, We Didn’t Have To Tell Them Much’-Smriti Mandhana

Dambulla: Star India opener Smriti Mandhana hailed her side’s bowling unit for getting the job done as they clinched the three-match Women’s T20 International series against Sri Lanka with a five-wicket win in the second match here on Saturday. India dished out an impressive bowling display in both spin and pace departments, choking Sri Lanka to a paltry 125/7 after the home side were 87 for no loss inside 14 overs. In reply, India overcame some early hiccups to secure the series-clinching win and take an unassailable 2-0 lead. “They (bowlers) did a really good job today and also in the last match to defend 139,” Mandhana said at the post-match press conference. The Indian bowlers struggled to get a breakthrough early on as the Sri Lankan opening duo of skipper Chamari Athapaththu (43) and Vishmi Gunaratne (45) gave them a solid start. “We didn’t have to tell them much. It was just about following our game plan as a bowling unit and sticking to it. We knew one or two wickets here and there will get us back in the game. “Our bowlers were really patient with it. Certainly, we leaked a few runs with some misfields here and there but I’m sure we will come back stronger.” The Romesh Powar-coached team has left out the likes of Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey and Sneh Rana, and fielded the likes of Pooja Vastrakar, Renuka Singh, Simran Bahadur and Meghna Singh. The Indian spin attack, on the other hand, had the likes of Deepti Sharma, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Radha Yadav. During her knock of 34-ball 39, Mandhana became the second fastest Indian woman to score 2,000 runs in T20I runs. She reached the feat in her 84th innings, becoming the third Indian woman after the legendary Mithali Raj (70 innings) and current skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (88 innings) to cross the mark. Mandhana and her opening partner Shafali Verma got off to a flier and the left-hander said it was about backing their strengths. “Me and Shafali had a game plan going today. We knew which bowlers to target, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, it was about our strengths,” she said. “Later on after the power-play, it was more about singles and doubles and not whom to attack as we had only 126 to get. It was about rotating strike and dealing in one and twos.” After the departure of Mandhana, India stuttered in the middle overs but skipper Harmanpreet Kaur anchored the chase with an unbeaten 31 from 32 deliveries. Mandhana said the wicket was difficult to bat on. “It was keeping a bit low, and of course it was on the slower side. So it wasn’t an easy pitch to bat on. You had to really work hard on your runs but once you get used to the pace and bounce of the wicket, runs came in,” she concluded. The final match of the T20I series is slated on Monday, before the three-match ODI series begins at Pallekele on July 1. Get all the latest updates on Cricket News, Cricket Photos, Cricket Videos and Cricket Scores here

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