Punam Raut has earned lot of respect among team-mates, says Smriti Mandhana

Punam Raut has earned lot of respect among team-mates, says Smriti Mandhana

Smriti Mandhana celebrates her century © Getty Images

Punam Raut was batting on 36 during the pink-ball Test at the Carrara stadium on Friday (October 1) when Australians appealed for a caught behind dismissal off Sophie Molineux. Despite the umpire not upholding the appeal, the right-handed batter chose to walk off thinking that she had nicked the ball to Alyssa Healy off the left-arm spinner. While the decision sparked a lot of debates, Centurion Smriti Mandhana – who shared a 102-run partnership with Raut – said although they didn’t understand the decision at the time, Raut’s India team-mates respect her for the choice she made.

“At first we reacted like, ‘Oh, why did you do that?’. Then of course, it’s something that we all respect a lot,” Mandhana said at the post match media interaction. “She has earned a lot of respect from all the team-mates that she actually walked out, and I don't know how many people would actually do that in cricket at the moment – men’s or womens.”

“I don't know many people who would actually walk out if there's no DRS. Nowadays, people walk out because there’s DRS, but when there's no DRS and to walk out, I don't know. Definitely she has earned a lot of respect from us. But the first reaction was like, oh, was it like actually an edge or why did you walk? So that was the first reaction.”

At the end of Day 2, India have batted 101.5 overs so far in two days with rain and hailstorms taking out almost a day’s play from the one-off Test. With only two more days remaining, Mandhana was non-committal about their plans and whether they have declaration in mind going into Day 3. But going by her words, India are unlikely to end their innings on overnight score and will be looking to consolidate.

“It’s very difficult to plan out stuff because the rain has played such a big factor in yesterday and today’s play. We have almost lost one day of the four days only we have,” Mandhana said while talking about team plans.

“We lost two wickets (at the end). Tomorrow we will have to start stabilising again and, from there, can actually have a launchpad from where we can actually declare. To start with we have to stabilise, if there were two batters, we would have had a different plan maybe, but at the moment we will look to stabilise initially and then maybe think when to launch or (think) about declaration. But I don’t think we are in the state yet to think about it.”

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The 25-year-old started the innings from her score of 80 overnight, she was caught off the second ball of she faced on the day, but when the umpires went upstairs to check if the catch was clean, it was found out that the bowler – Ellyse Pery – had overstepped at the bowling crease.

“I actually get scared of bad balls quite a lot. So, when that happened, I was like ‘oh, shit’. I was like, I prepared so much overnight and now I got out to a full toss. For us, we thought the catch wasn’t taken (cleanly), so we were waiting, but no-ball came out of the box,” Mandhana said.

“Of course, that shot was not something I wanted to play at the start. But I was quite clear in my head when I came into bat that it didn’t affect me much. I was quite determined to do what I wanted to do.”

That was the only blemish the stylish left-hander made on the day as she went on to score her maiden Test ton - the first century by an Indian against Australia - when she pulled Perry for a four in 52nd over. She eventually got out to 127 from 216 balls when she was caught by Tahlia McGrath off Ashleigh Gardner. But during the innings, she broke the 72-year-old record for highest-individual score by a visiting batter in Australia. Previous record was held by England’s Molly Hide, who scored 124 not out in 1949 in Sydney.

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“You have told me now, so now I will start thinking what does it mean because I didn’t know about this,” Mandhana said about the record-breaking feat. “I think it’s good to something of that sort, breaking a 70-year-old record. I don’t think I have done something like that ever in my life.”

“I am just more than happy that I could actually give that kind of foundation for the team. Those things – the individual stuffs - will happen, the kind of position team is in, I am happy with that.”

India didn’t play much cricket post the T20 World Cup in 2020 before returning to cricket with the home series against South Africa in March this year. Post that, they have been playing cricket continuously with the recent England tour and the ongoing Australia series – both being multi-format events with one-off Tests and three ODIs and three T20Is.

“I think after covid we can’t say we didn’t have time, we got all the time to improve our skills or the basics of the game. In Kuwait, I had a lot of time batting and back home with coach trying to do all the things I used to do initially, which I never got in the last two-three years. In the last four-five months we have been on the road, so we didn’t get, but constantly checking the videos and trying to figure out what I have done to my batting that I am not able to get. That’s the only thing I keep doing,” Mandhana concluded.

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