India Women vs New Zealand Women 1st T20I Smriti Mandhana plays a shot during the first Twenty20 international women's cricket match between New Zealand and India in Wellington on February 6 , AFP
The repeated failure of the middle-order to up the game when it matters has convinced Indian women's team vice-captain Smriti Mandhana that she has to "practically bat for 18 to 20 overs" for the side to stay in the hunt during stiff chases.
Mandhana smashed a 58-run knock off 34 balls but the Indian team failed to make it count and was dismissed for 136 while chasing a target of 160 in the opening T20 International here Wednesday.
"My wicket along with Jemimah's turned out to be crucial. If you get out back-to-back in T20s, it proves costly. When you are chasing 160 and the run-rate is above 7 or 8, next time we have to plan and play better. It didn't work out today," Mandhana said after the match.
"Practically, I would say I have to bat till 20 overs, that is the best option. The more I bat till 18 overs, we won't collapse because if the top three or four batters can bat till the 18-20th overs then the rest can revolve around them. So tactically that is what I will try to do," Mandhana said, indicating the absence of a finisher in the line-up.
Mandhana bettered her record of fastest fifty by one delivery, fetching this one off 24 deliveries.
Asked if it was her best, she responded: "You never know what your best is. I can't limit myself to a 60 and say it is my best. If I can chase any total and if I win matches for India, then only it would be my best."
Mandhana said though Indian conceded a few runs in the end, the team should have been able to chase the target.
"We almost got our run-rate under 7, which was great but definitely we gave away 10-15 runs extra in the end while bowling. We had got (Suzie) Bates and (Sophie) Devine but the wicket was good and batters should have chased the target," she said.
"The way we played the ODI series, even today we were cruising till the 12th over but in T20s there is always a collapse. So, the next time we have to keep that in mind as a batting unit. Down 0-1 in the three-T20I series, Mandhana said the team will be under pressure.
"Being 1-0 down, we will be under the pump, everyone will be aiming to be better than what we were today and win the next two matches for India, that is what we are thinking and not what happened today." Wind came into play at the WestPac Stadium and Mandhana said she kept that factor in mind while taking on-field decisions.
"We were thinking of taking pacers and spinners from whichever way the wind was going. According to the wind, we were thinking of bowling at the stumps or outside the stumps," she said.