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India Women’s Cricket – Smriti Mandhana says it was amazing to watch India’s bowlers dominate Australia

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Senior India player thrilled with the way the lower-middle order has been contributing for the past two-three series

To outperform the Australian quicks on their home soil was among India’s standout achievements on their recently concluded tour of the country. That is the view of Smriti Mandhana, who also singled out the lower-middle order’s contribution in the seven-match multi-format series, which Australia won 11-5 on points, as a reflection of how “we are all working very hard on batting”.
“We had so many positives,” Mandhana, the highest run-scorer in the series, said during a Clubhouse session on Thursday ahead of the final of Red Bull Campus Cricket’s first-ever women’s edition. “Everyone did well, especially the bowling. Pace bowling was one department where we were way better than the Aussies, which is a huge thing for an Indian team to come to Australia and outplay their bowlers, outplay their pacers, which was so amazing to watch”
Mandhana, who was India’s vice-captain across formats with Harmanpreet Kaur missing the ODIs and the Test, heaped praised on their quick bowlers whose spectacular display of swing and seam kept the pressure on Australia’s vaunted line-up for extended of periods of play in the three ODIs, the standalone Test and the two matches of the three-T20I series India bowled in.

The experience of playing under lights, in whites, with the pink ball, was a dream come true

Smriti Mandhana

Equally significant are the handy cameos that have started to come from India’s lower order ever since their tour of England this June. Champion teams usually have resources all the way down to No. 11 and Mandhana was well aware of it.
“Australia have always had good batting depth,” she said. “Big thanks to Big Bash, which has had a huge role to play in that,” she said. “I actually never knew, until I played in the Big Bash, that Sophie Molineux is an opener. Last season (2018-19) when I came over [to play for Hobart Hurricanes] and saw her open for Melbourne Renegades, I was, like, ‘Oh, she bats No. 8 for Australia.’ Then I realised that their batting depth is amazing.
“It’s a conscious effort from all of us to have good batting depth. Especially in T20 and ODI formats because in white-ball cricket we might lose a few wickets and it shouldn’t always be top heavy. We should have a lot of contributors. Our lower-middle order is contributing a lot and has done amazingly in the last two-three series. And you could see that [in how] Jhulan di finished the match for us in the third ODI, which was really amazing. It showed we are all working very hard on batting, especially getting our Nos. 7, 8, and 9 to bat.”
Mandhana finished the tour with a chart-topping 352 runs. Her maiden Test century helped put India in a commanding position to win India first-ever day-night Test before it culminated in a draw partly because of bad weather.

It was like a first experience for me to be 80 not out [overnight] because I had no prior knowledge of how to approach the next day

Smriti Mandhana

“[If] Results would have gone differently for us, it would have been better for the Indian team. Rain played a bit of spoilsport in the Test match and also the first T20I, which we were in a very good position to win. Not blaming the rain, but things would have been maybe different if the rain would have not happened, Mandhana said, jogging her mind back to finishing 20 short of her hundred on day one of the Test in Carrara.

“Rarely do we find ourselves remaining unbeaten overnight in Test [because of the rarity of women’s fixtures in the longest format]. Especially knowing me as a batter, for me to be on 80 not out at the end of the day is very rare, in any format,” she said. “It was like a first experience for me to be 80 not out [overnight] because I had no prior knowledge of how to approach the next day: should I start from zero, should I start from 80? How do I warm up, because we are used to starting from zero? So, I barely slept that night. I could sleep maybe till 3:30-4am after which I was just staring at the walls.”

Mandhana batted for more women’s Tests, especially if they can be slotted within the multi-format structure, where white-ball games are worth two points and red-ball games worth four.

“We, as women cricketers, just love playing red-ball cricket and now with the pink ball as well, so, it will be cool to have a lot more of Tests, especially multi-format series, she said. “It will also give a lot of substance to the only Test match because it has four points, which adds a lot of value to it.”

“We were happy we got two Test matches in the span of three months. It was a good experience of playing one in England and one here. I’m absolutely in love with this multi-format series. I think it gives substance to all the matches we play, whether it is three ODIs, one Test and three T20Is. Sometimes you lose two matches and think the series is lost, but in multi-format series you go into every match thinking there are two points to gain.”

Asked about the experience of playing a day-night Test, Mandhana said it was the fulfillment of a long-harboured “dream”.

“The best thing about playing a day-night Test was we didn’t have to wake up early to play the Test,” he quipped. “Jokes aside, it was a new challenge for all of us, we really didn’t get a lot of time to practice with the pink ball. We got only two days before the match. It was really, really amazing to get out there.

“When I used to watch men’s pink-ball Tests, never did I think I’d get a chance to play a Test, let alone one with the pink ball, day-night. Oh, wow! That was, like, crazy. The experience of playing under lights, in whites, with the pink ball, was a dream come true even though I am in the eighth year on the international circuit.”

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha



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Recent Match Report – Dhaka vs Tigers 2nd Match 2021/22

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Tamim Iqbal’s 50, and Dhaka’s total of 183 for 6, proved insufficient

Khulna Tigers 186 for 5 (Talukdar 61, Ebadot 2-27) beat Minister Group Dhaka 183 for 6 (Tamim 50, Shahzad 42, Rabbi 3-45) by five wickets

How the match played out

Khulna Tigers romped to their 184-run target against Minister Group Dhaka, winning by five wickets to round off an action-packed opening day in BPL 2022. This was their third 180-plus successful chase in tournament history, having done it twice during the 2019-20 season.
Dhaka had posted 183 for 6 in 20 overs, a formidable total especially considering the capricious Dhaka pitch. Tamim Iqbal and Mohammad Shahzad gave them a fast start, adding 69 in 8.1 overs before Mahmudullah hit the big shots in the end.
Khulna, too, responded brilliantly. Rony Talukdar top-scored with 61, but it was his 72-run second-wicket stand with Andre Fletcher that fired up Khulna’s chase. Later, Thisara Perera and Mahedi Hasan took them home with an over to spare, adding 33 runs in 2.3 overs.

Big hit

Fletcher made 45 off 23 balls with seven fours and two sixes. He struck 22 runs off Rubel Hossain, hitting him for four fours and a six in the fourth over. Talukdar played the anchor role, making 61 off 42 with seven fours and a six.

For Dhaka, Tamim hit 50 off 42 balls, while Shahzad blasted 42 off 27 with eight fours. Their innings got a final flourish from Mahmudullah, who struck three sixes and two fours in his 20-ball 39.

Big miss

Dhaka’s bowling came unstuck, with Rubel, Isuru Udana and Russell going for 121 runs in their combined 11 overs. Earlier, with the bat, Russell had made only seven runs, which played a part in them not being able to reach 200.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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Under-19 World Cup – BCCI sends five reserve players to bolster Covid-hit Indian squad in the Caribbean

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Uday Saharan, Rishith Reddy, Ansh Gosai, Abishek Porel and Pushpendra Singh Rathore called up

The BCCI is sending five players to the Under-19 World Cup in the West indies as back-up following a Covid-19 outbreak in the Indian camp, with five players of the original squad in the Caribbean testing positive for the virus this week.

While Saharan, Reddy, Gosai and Rathore were all part of the travelling reserves announced by the BCCI before the World Cup, they did not travel to the Caribbean with the main squad. Porel, who was initially not part of the reserves, has made the cut in the place of Amrit Raj Upadhyay.

Left-arm spinner Upadhyay was originally picked among the reserves, but has been pipped by Porel, and the reason, ESPNcricinfo understands, is that he is a wicketkeeper. Aaradhya, the second keeper in the main squad, is currently in isolation, leaving the squad with only Dinesh Bana to wear the big gloves.

Saharan is a batter from Rajasthan, who hit 102 in the tri-series competition played between two India Under-19 sides and Bangladesh Under-19 late last year. Reddy is a right-arm seamer from Hyderabad who picked up 5 for 53 against Bangladesh Under-19s in the same tournament. Saurashtra’s Gosai is a right-handed batter known for his innovative shot-making, and Rajasthan’s Rathore is a batting allrounder.

Once the five reserves reach the Caribbean, they will have to serve a mandatory quarantine period before joining the team. They are currently not part of the main squad; the tournament’s event technical committee will have to approve them before they can play in the competition.

It’s possible that the committee will allow them only as temporary Covid-19 replacements, which comes with the caveat that they must exit the squad once the affected players return after recovery. If the BCCI so wants, these players can apply to be permanent additions to the squad, but that is usually done to replace injured players.

Although the five Covid-infected players are currently in isolation, they are expected to be available for India’s quarter-final game, which likely be played on January 29. However, if their recovery takes longer or more players return positive tests or suffer injuries, the team management can dip into their reserves at short notice.

India, who became the first team in the competition to qualify for the quarter-finals, have their knockout fixture scheduled in another country, Antigua and Barbuda. This means the players who are currently in Trinidad and Tobago will have to return negative tests before they can fly out.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx



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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe 3rd ODI 2021/22

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Vandersay picks up 4 for 10 in 7.4 overs as hosts bowlers run rampant

Sri Lanka 254 for 9 (Nissanka 55, Asalanka 52, Ngarava 2-46) beat Zimbabwe 70 (Kaitano 19, Vandersay 4-10) by 184 runs

Sri Lanka’s bowlers ran rampant in the early overs of Zimbabwe’s chase reducing the opposition to 20 for 3, then 31 for 5, and eventually 70 all out, decimating their hopes of chasing down 255 and claiming a series victory.

Dushmantha Chameera blasted out the first two wickets, before the spinners claimed the limelight – Maheesh Theekshana squeezing one between Sean Williams’ bat and pad, Jeffrey Vandersay taking four of his own, before Ramesh Mendis also took two. Somewhere in that cascade of wickets, seamer Chamika Karunaratne struck too, to remove the dangerous Sikandar Raza.

After 15 overs, Zimbabwe were 37 for 5, the required rate had crept above six, and the chase was essentially buried. Ryan Burl and Tendai Chatara fought briefly to put up 18 for the ninth wicket – the best stand of the innings. But it was all over by the 25th over, with Vandersay scything through the lower order.

The collapse was particularly disappointing for Zimbabwe, because their attack had operated with such discipline to keep Sri Lanka to a manageable total. Where Zimbabwe’s own batters had put up totals in the 300 range batting first in the two previous matches, Sri Lanka lurched only to 254 for 9, with each of their top eight getting to double-figures, but only Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka managing half-centuries.
Zimbabwe’s had been a collective bowling effort. Richard Ngarava claimed 2 for 46 from his nine overs while Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani, Wellington Masakadza, Ryan Burl, and Sean Williams all claimed one wicket apiece. Aside from an 80-run opening stand between Nissanka and Kusal Mendis, Zimbabwe never let another pair prosper for long, the next-best partnership coming much later in the innings, when Karunaratne and Ramesh Mendis put on 48 together.

It was Chameera who precipitated Zimbabwe’s rapid downfall, in the third over. He bowled a shortish ball outside off stump to right-hander Regis Chakabva, who edged it to slip. Then, next ball, he angled one across captain Ervine, who nicked it to the keeper. When Theekshana sent a straighter one through Williams’ defences in the eighth over, Zimbabwe had lost their three best top-order batters in the series.

After the first powerplay, Kaitano was given out stumped off the bowling of Vandersay, although the evidence that his back foot was in the air when keeper Kusal Mendis took the bails off did not seem totally conclusive. Next over, Raza spooned a catch to cover, and all of Zimbabwe’s serious batting hopes had departed.

Vandersay then took three of the five remaining wickets, and Ramesh Mendis claimed the other two. There was no substantial turn in the pitch – Sri Lanka were menacing, but not unplayable. Zimbabwe will feel they let themselves down.

In the first innings, Sri Lanka had begun steadily with the bat – Nissanka and Kusal Mendis hitting only five boundaries in the powerplay, as they strode to 43 for 0 in ten overs. As has been the case right through the series, Zimbabwe’s quicks were disciplined and sharp, though they didn’t find the early wickets they had managed in the first two games.

Perhaps sensing that he needed to raise the tempo if Sri Lanka were to near the 300 mark, Kusal Mendis was the first to depart, lofting the left-arm spin of Masakadza to long off. He was out for 36 off 51 balls. Nissanka brought up his second successive half-century of the series with a four through backward point, but was run out not long after that, thanks to an excellent direct hit from Zimbabwe’s substitute fielder.

Asalanka struck a four through third man first ball, and provided Sri Lanka’s main thrust of the middle overs even as wickets fell around him. He was strong square of the wicket as usual, and hit five fours in his 56-ball 52. It was his second fifty of the series.

Sri Lanka’s 2-1 victory pushes them up to fourth in the ODI Super League table, though they have played 18 out of their 24 games, and all other sides aside from Ireland (also 18) have played fewer. Zimbabwe are down at No. 11, on 35 points after 12 games. Only teams finishing in the top eight, effectively, gain direct qualification to next year’s ODI World Cup.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf



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