Smriti Mandhana on her match-winning knock in 2nd T20I vs England: ‘Pushed myself not to play a rash shot’

After losing the first T20I, India needed their senior players to take more responsibility as they fought to stay alive in the series and vice-captain Smriti Mandhana led from the front with her brilliant fifty as the visitors won the Derby T20I to level the three-match series 1-1.

Mandhana slammed 79 not out off 53 balls as India won the second T20I by eight wickets. Chasing a target of 143, India completed the chase with 20 balls to spare.

Player of the Match Mandhana, who got out to a rash shot in the first match after making a solid 23, revealed after the game that she made a conscious effort in the second T20I to stay till the end and take her side past the finishing line.

“After the last match, we needed to come back stronger and level the series. Was pushing myself not to play a rash shot and take it deep,” she said at the post-match presentation ceremony. “It’s good to bat, good wicket. I found my touch back, timing the ball the way I want to. You go out as an opener and try to give your team a good start. I’m happy to contribute.”

Mandhana and Shafali Verma gave India a blistering start in the chase with a 55-run opening partnership. Reflecting on the stand and how they plan to attack in the powerplay overs, Mandhana said: “It depends on the day and the bowlers, two years back, she (on Shafali Verma) perhaps was just trying to dominate, but she now knows whom to target and to respect good bowling. The good thing is we can both take advantage of the batting powerplay, whoever is in good touch takes the lead in doing so.”

India captain Harmanpreet Kaur praised her team after the win and acknowledged the all-around improvement shown by her side to level the series.

“The way we played today I’m really happy. We discussed those things from Durham and put that into practice. We have plans for the batters, it’s important to execute. Credit goes to the bowlers, the fielders did their bit,” said Harmanpreet.

England had a horrific start batting first as they lost three wickets in the first three overs. Eventually, it was the 65-run partnership between Maia Bouchier and Freya Kemp for the sixth wicket that helped the hosts reach a respectable total. Kemp was the star of the innings as she made 51 off just 37 balls.

England skipper Amy Jones admitted after the match that her side was “under-par” in the second T20I but was full of praise for Kemp.

“I think we were under-par, but after the start we had, we did well to get us to 142. The two batted well to give us a good crack at defending (on Freya Kemp and Bouchier). As a team, we want to play fearlessly and take it to the opposition, it didn’t happen tonight though, credit to their (Indian) openers. I have seen her right through the summer (on Kemp), she’s a real athlete and works both with bat and ball. India batted brilliantly, we have to play well to beat them, but we didn’t execute with the ball and build pressure tonight,” Jones said.

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