Smriti Mandhana was head and shoulders above all her Indian women batting colleagues during an otherwise disappointing series against Australian women which India lost 5-11 on a multiple-format point count.
Indian women’s team head coach Ramesh Powar is confident that the supremely stylish Smriti Mandhana, at some point in the near future, will captain the side as she is being looked upon as a potential leader.
Smriti Mandhana Will Lead At Some Point: Ramesh Powar
He, however, made it clear that he is setting no timeline for a change in leadership. The 25-year-old Smriti Mandhana had one of her best away series where she scored 86 in a WODI followed by a majestic 127, her first ton in Tests, and then a 52, albeit for a losing cause in the final women’s T20I.
“We are looking at her as a leader. At some point, she will lead,” Powar said after the end of the series.
One of the biggest reasons for zeroing in on Smriti Mandhana as a potential leader is a fact that she is an inspiration for the younger players in this team.
“She inspires a lot of younger players in the team. Obviously, we will rate her highly. The way she batted in Test was amazing, especially under lights. We knew she would come good,” Powar said, praising the T20 vice-captain.
What Ramesh Powar expected in all these years was consistency from Smriti Mandhana, and the Maharashtra batswoman is finally showing signs of good things that can be expected in the future.
“One season (of consistency), she will be a different player. She gets lots of game time playing in leagues across the world. And it becomes an advantage as in India you don’t get so much of game time.”
India has to “address some future roles for leadership”, perhaps after the conclusion of the Women 50-over World Cup in March-April. It’s possible Smriti Mandhana will become a top contender to take over the leadership.
As things stand, Mithali Raj captains in the longer Test formats while Harmanpreet Kaur remains T20I captain. Smriti Mandhana, deputy to Harmanpreet Kaur in T20Is, however, was the vice-captain throughout the multi-format series in Australia in Harmanpreet Kaur’s injury-enforced absence from the three-ODI leg and the standalone pink-ball Test.
Ramesh Powar: One Needs Characters To Win Women World Cup
Ramesh Powar is happy that in both England and Australia women series, the team management was able to give a lot of chances to younger players and also those in the fringes.
“You need characters to win World Cup. We stand at a juncture where Mithali and Jhulan will phase out at some point. We tested young bowlers like Meghana Singh and Renuka Thakur. We wanted to test our players,” said the former India off-spinner.
Ramesh Powar also made it clear that there is no room for complacency, as leg-spinner Poonam Yadav found out after consistent non-performance.
“If you are not performing your role, you will be sidelined. We don’t allow someone take their place for granted. The players who had to sit out were given proper chances,” the coach said.
All-rounder Deepti Sharma’s lack of firepower in the middle-overs has been a cause for worry, and Ramesh Powar informed that batting coach Shiv Sunder Das is working with the Bengal player.
“Change can’t happen in 10 days. Batting coach SS Das is working with her,” he added.
India lost both WODI and WT20I series 1-2 and 0-2, respectively, while one T20 game was washed out. Harmanpreet Kaur, along with seven others, will compete in the Women’s Big Bash League.