India A Vastly Improved Unit: Smriti Mandhana – /

Opener Smriti Mandhana says the India women’s cricket team has improved “massively” since the World T20 final defeat to Australia last year and will be “extra competitive” during the upcoming series here which also features its first day-night Test outing.

Multi-format series

India and Australia are set to lock horns in a multi-format series comprising three ODIs, the day-night Test and three T20s, starting on September 21.

The Test will be played from September 30 to October 3 in Canberra.

The last time the two sides met was at the women’s T20 World Cup final at the MCG last year, when the hosts hammered India by 85 runs to lift the trophy.

“The team has grown massively (since the T20 World Cup),” Mandhana told The Scoop podcast.

The Indian squad finished its 14-day hard quarantine on Monday.

The COVID pandemic had given the girls the chance to reassess their game, identify their shortcomings and come back stronger, Smriti said.

“The whole team has worked on fitness and skills… we are still getting into the rhythm of playing matches continuously. The last five-six months we have been playing and now we are getting back into the match mindset. Hopefully the series goes well for the whole team,” she said.

India has arrived in Australia after a multi-format series against England in June and July, while a few players like white-ball skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, teen batting sensation Shafali Verma and Smriti also featured in The Hundred tournament.

“We love playing against Australia, because they are one of the best teams in the world and quite competitive,” Smriti said.

“When it comes to Australia, you’re a bit more pumped up because the level of competitiveness of the Australian team just rubs off on us and we also start being extra competitive,” she said.

Smriti is the only Indian woman to score a century in Australia, a 102 at Blundstone Arena aged 19 in 2016. She also holds the record for the highest T20I score in the country by an Indian woman.

Batters’ paradise

“Australian wickets have true bounce and I think everyone loves batting in Australia. No one will tell you they don’t like batting in Australia,” she said.

The teams will play a warm-up match in Brisbane on Saturday.

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