The 20-year old Smriti Mandhana must have realised how cruel the game of cricket can be in the last few days. The left-handed batswoman had become the toast of the nation with her brilliant batting exploits in the first two games of the tournament before a prolonged slump in form ended her maiden World Cup in a heartbreaking manner. She had started the tournament with a blistering knock of 90 runs against England before slamming 106* in the next game against reigning World T20 champions West Indies.
But from the third game onward, she managed to cross the double-digit mark just once when she scored 13 in the last group game against New Zealand. And any chance of ending the tournament ended when she was bowled for a duck by Anya Shrubsole in the final at Lord’s. India had gone on to lost the final by just 9 runs and Smriti must have learned a lot from her maiden appearance in the showpiece event of the game.
Back in the country now, Mandhana has shared her experience on her roller-coaster of a ride in England.
“The journey was good, of course. As a kid, you always dream to play at Lord’s. Unfortunately, we missed playing at Lord’s in 2014 as the match was washed out. But I remember Jhulu didi (Jhulan Goswami) telling me and Shikha (Pandey) that “don’t worry the 2017 World Cup final is at the same ground and if we do well, we will be there”. I think that really happened. It was a dream come true playing before the packed stadium in Lord’s,” Mandhana told reporters.
On her inexplicable loss of form:
“Had I known (what was going wrong), I would have performed better. After first two games, I played the next two games (against Pakistan and Sri Lanka) with the same confidence. I am disappointed with my shot selection. Barring the final, I don’t think the bowler got me out. I felt I have gifted my wicket. So more than technique, I need to work on my shot selection, I need to decide which ball to be hit, I was going for every shot. That’s the takeaway from the last seven innings where I didn’t do well. Hopefully, I will be a better player next time,” she said.
“My preparations have been the same for the last nine matches. I did not change my preparation at all. Be it my gym sessions or batting sessions. Even I was thinking what had really happened after those two knocks. So, that was something which was haunting me. Generally, when I am out of shape of batting, I perform well. This time when I was in the good shape of batting, I was not performing. It was pathetic shot selection I would say. I really played some rash shots which got me out. Except for the last match, bowler did not take my wicket, I gifted my wicket. So, next time I will make sure I have a good shot selection,” she added.
The rising star then came up with a humorous answer when she was asked about her academics.
“I am in the first year (of college) for the last three years,” she said. ” I have not failed, but I am not giving exams.
Mandhana concluded by saying that she is looking forward to regaining full fitness and rectifying her mistakes.
“Get back to 100 per cent fitness after the injury and make sure I don’t repeat those mistakes. And I do well in the first two matches then continue the same form in the next games and be a better player,” she concluded.