“It’s always fun to bat with Shafali Verma” – Smriti Mandhana

Indian opener Smriti Mandhana emphasized the invaluable synergy she shares with her opening partner, Shafali Verma, forged over the past two and a half years. This understanding has yielded significant dividends, as they have mastered the art of complimenting each other’s game.

"It's always fun to bat with Shafali Verma" - Smriti Mandhana
“It’s always fun to bat with Shafali Verma” – Smriti Mandhana

Since their partnership began in T20Is in 2019, Mandhana and Verma have emerged as India’s most successful opening pair in the shortest format, accumulating 2079 runs at an impressive average of 31.98 across 66 matches. Their success also transcended into the ODI arena when they started opening together in 2021, amassing 767 runs in just 19 games at an average of 34.86.

During a chase in the 3rd T20I of India’s ongoing tour of Bangladesh, where India pursued a target of 118, the duo of Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma stitched a commanding 91-run opening partnership bolstering the challenge of the run chase, resulting in a comfortable victory, achieving the target with seven wickets in hand and nine balls to spare.

Notably, their partnership milestone extended beyond mere runs, as they became the first Indian pair to surpass 2,000 runs together in the T20I format. This accomplishment solidified their status as one of the premier opening pairs in international cricket, joining the esteemed ranks of Australia’s Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney, as well as New Zealand’s formidable duo of Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates.

Smriti Mandhana expressed her joy and camaraderie with Shafali Verma, highlighting their seamless partnership on the cricket field. Delighted by their evolving synergy over the past two and a half years, Mandhana emphasized their deepened understanding of each other’s batting styles and strategies. She reflected on their dynamic roles within the partnership, where they intuitively switch between supporting each other and taking charge based on the situation.

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She mentioned, “I am really happy and its always fun to bat with Shafali. I think in the last two and a half years we have got a better understanding of which bowlers she would target and which bowler I can and how do we go about batting together.”

Smriti Mandhana expressed her delight in the team’s unbeaten streak throughout the series, highlighting their adaptability to varying conditions, forming a crucial asset as they gear up for the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled in Bangladesh from 3rd to 20th October. She further emphasized her satisfaction with the team’s performance and camaraderie. Delighted by the team’s unity and progress, Mandhana highlighted the strengths in batting while acknowledging areas for improvement in bowling and fielding.

She also emphasized the significance of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) in nurturing talent and providing a platform for players to transition into international cricket, noting the emergence of several promising players ready to represent India on the global stage. Mandhana highlighted the importance of competitions like the WPL as stepping stones for aspiring cricketers, underlining its crucial role in bolstering women’s cricket in India and fostering a robust bench strength for the national team. With an eye on the upcoming World Cup, Mandhana expressed confidence in the team’s preparation and the talent pool that has been cultivated through tournaments like the WPL.

She stated, “We have come here with a plan and an aim for the team for the preparation for the World Cup, I think it’s a great competition, it’s been two years and the kind of talent more than anything it’s something big for women’s cricket in India plus we have been getting lot of bench strength and a lot of talents out of WPL and there are almost five, six players ready for international cricket which is great and that is all we want. WPL is like a stepping stone before coming into international cricket.”

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In the 4th T20I, Smriti Mandhana presented the debut cap to Asha Sobhana, marking a significant milestone, as she became the oldest to debut for India in WT20Is. Asha earned her maiden international call following an impressive display in the recently concluded WPL, where she utilized the platform to exhibit her talents. Notably, her outstanding performance in the competition catapulted her onto the global stage. As the standout bowler for the 2024 WPL champions, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Asha distinguished herself by claiming the season’s first 5-wicket haul and emerging as one of the tournament’s top wicket-takers, accumulating 12 dismissals across 10 innings.

(Quotes sourced from Cricbuzz)

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