Team India vice-captain and swashbuckling opener Smriti Mandhana recently said that she is happy to see nearly 30 players from the country will take part in the Women’s T20 Challenge after the imposed break due to the global pandemic novel COVID-19. The tournament will take place in Sharjah between three teams from November 4 to 9.
However, the dates have been clashing with another T20 leagues – Women’s Big Bash League. But everyone, including Mandhana, applauded the effort of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for arranging this tournament amid this crunch time of COVID-19. Meanwhile, Mandhana, who will captain the Trailblazers, hopes to have a full-fledged Women’s IPL in near future. She believes that kind of tournament will help to improve the depth of the women’s team.
“I wouldn’t say an 8 team IPL (to start with). The BCCI is going to decide that, probably 5-6 to start with,” Smriti Mandhana said to India Today Sports Consulting Editor Boria Majumdar in the latest episode of India Today Inspiration.
“The kind of response women’s cricket is getting, the kind of numbers, last year we played a series against South Africa in Surat, we got a full house. Last year’s Women’s T20 Challenge was watched by so many people at the stadium. We all were watching the final, the whole atmosphere felt unreal. The whole ground cheering for all the girls, it felt good. It’s growing,” she further added.
“If we start a women’s IPL in 1 and half years or 1 year, whenever the BCCI decides to start it, it’s good. I think we have to start it. It (women’s cricket) is at stage 5 out of 10. If we have the IPL, it will push it directly to 8. Not only in terms of popularity, it will get a lot of depth in women’s cricket as we have seen in men’s cricket. From the time IPL started, all the boys are ready to play international cricket. They are used to that kind of pressure, that kind of crowd, they are used to people watching them on TV,” further added the stunning left-handed opener.
However, Smriti admitted that it might not get a huge response from the first season itself but the time is good to start the tournament. India have reached the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup in 2017, finished at the semi-finals of the ICC World T20 in 2018 and the final of the ICC T20 World Cup earlier this year. But they failed to win a single title yet and she said it’s more of a mental thing.
She also revealed that the head coach WV Raman helped them to ease the pressure of the final but the team failed to keep that mentality in front of a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground. Notably, more than 86K people attended the final of ICC T20 World Cup between Indian and Australia which the host convincingly won.
“It’s more about handling your nerves than your skills”: Smriti Mandhana on handling pressure
“To be frank, we all were in a good zone before the final. Raman (WV Raman) sir contributed a lot in making us feel it’s not a World Cup final. He was making us feel like it’s just a normal series. He told us not to put pressure on ourselves ahead of the World Cup. Unknowingly, somewhere, probably, the thing that we’re playing the World Cup final (Cropped up). We also have to consider that we don’t have as many semi-finals and finals as much as an Australian or English teams play. So if you say, Big Bash, they constantly play semi-final and final,” expressed Mandhana.
“We have probably one or two. Probably we don’t have that high pressure matches in our domestic circuit. I don’t think this is an excuse but we have to keep learning and get better. I think this is also a case of us not having enough knockout matches. It’s more about handling your nerves than your skills. We have to get better,” Smriti Mandhana concluded.
Smriti Mandhana (C), Deepti Sharma, Punam Raut, Richa Ghosh, Dayalan Hemlatha, Nuzhat Parween, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Harleen Deol, Jhulan Goswami, Simaran Dil Bahadur, Salma Khatun, Sophie Ecclestone, Natthakan Chantham, Deandra Dottin, Kashvee Gautam