We need to play to our strengths and not think about the occasion: Smriti Mandhana
Smriti Mandhana training in the nets. © BCCI Women Twitter
The third day of the one-off Test between England and India in chilly Bristol started with the hosts continuing to make a case for their first Test victory in eight years. But it ended with multiple rain delays as the day’s play was finally abandoned with India trailing by 82 runs. Smriti Mandhana, who was dismissed in the second innings just before lunch, believes the second-wicket partnership between Shafali Verma and Deepti Sharma has helped India stay in the game.
“Really disappointed, I got out before lunch. I would have loved to stay there and come back fresh tomorrow to bat again. That’s what Test cricket is," Mandhana said at the media interaction after the day's play on Friday (June 18). "We will take it but Shafali (Verma) and Deepti (Sharma) are still in a good partnership. So, in the end, we are in a good position.”
India started their second innings, still 165 runs behind England’s first innings score in overcast conditions and with the threat of rain around. According to Mandhana the ball wasn't swinging that much in the second innings.
“The conditions changed slightly (in the second innings). I think it was windy. But, it wasn’t swinging that much that it was not playable. It was still good conditions to bat on, even though conditions were overcast. I think I gave away my wicket. It wasn’t that great a ball. But, conditions are very good to bat on.” she said.
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India's collapse from 167 for no loss to 231 all out meant that they had to come back and bat again just before lunch with Mandhana and Verma having to take the responsibility with the bat again.
“The transition was pretty quick. We had 10-15 minutes (before) we went to bat again. We didn’t get together as a group but the discussion was to go out there and watch the ball. We didn’t bat that great in the first innings so we have to make it up in the second inning that’s what we were thinking about," said the 24-year-old.
While almost every other Indian batter struggled against England's attack, 17-year-old Verma looked the most comfortable out in the middle. She was unfazed by the weather and experience of her opponents to score her second fifty in the match.
“I think, it’s quite impressive to watch her bat from other end and also to bat along. I think we are both are very similar. And we keep things simple. The way she changed her game and the kind of maturity she has shown at this stage of her career is very positive for Indian cricket going forward," Mandhana added.
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The last session has been pivotal throughout the Test match with England and India losing wickets in quick succession. Mandhana feels the lack of experience in the format can be one of the reasons behind it and they will improve on that aspect if they get to play more Tests.
“I think that will be just an excuse. But, we are not used to batting beyond 50 overs. Probably a slight pressure of ending the day and remaining not out might have played a part. That will come with experience. The more we play Test matches more we get used to those conditions," Mandhana said.
Sophie Ecclestone was the wrecker-in-chief for England in the first innings on the third day morning as Indian batters struggled against the left-arm spinner and were caught on the crease as she returned with a four-wicket haul.
“ Sophie Eccelstone is at the moment world’s number one spinner. Nothing to take away from them. They have bowled well. I think we threw our wickets. All of us. (Tomorrow) we need to play to our strengths and not think about the occasion. The first innings is done and we have a big day tomorrow," Mandhana concluded.