Indian women's explosive batter Harmanpreet Kaur has said that her teammate and opener Smriti Mandhana excels when she's given the freedom to bat the way she wants.
Mandhana has made a reputation for being this beautifully classical shot-maker, but yet she has been able to make a mark in the fast-paced T20 format and this is where alongside Harmanpreet, she is considered as one of India's brightest talents.
Much like Harmanpreet, Smriti has made a name for herself in Women's KIA Super League in England and the Women's Big Bash League in Australia and she has been outstanding for Western Storm this English summer. She is not only the lone centurion of the season but the highest run-getter too with 421 runs with an average of 60.14 and a strike-rate of 174.68. Mandhana has the best boundary percentage as well, with 45 fours and 21 sixes.
“Smriti is someone in the Indian side I discuss a lot of cricket with. When I met her in the UK, she said her team had given her the freedom to swing her bat. And it was clear she was enjoying herself,” Kaur, who herself has turned out for Lancashire Thunder, told ESPNcricinfo, “We both played in the WBBL and now the KSL, so that experience is there. We've come to know each other quite well that way, and the output of my discussions with Smriti has mostly been that she likes being given freedom."
“When you're playing for the country, there's a lot of pressure on you to deliver, game after game. You have to live up to the expectations that the tag of a 'match-winner' brings with it. But it works well for Smriti when she is assured of that freedom by the captain and the management.”
Harmanpreet hails the matchwinning 102 in just 61 balls against her own team - Lancashire Thunder - in KSL as "one of the best innings I've seen her(Smriti) play” and that, “She was looking very confident; you could see that in her strokeplay. That's what you need in a player: confidence and flow. And that comes, to a great extent, from that freedom.”
The Indian women's T20 captain is excited with the timing of the form that Mandhana is enjoying, as the ICC Women's World T20 in the Caribbean in November ahead of Team India.
“She's performed immensely well in the KSL, touchwood. And I hope she's able to take that forward into the next series (in Sri Lanka in September) and then into the World T20,” said Kaur and added, “Whether it's Smriti or me or someone else in the team – a batter or a bowler – individual performances only count when they contribute to the team's victories.”
(Inputs from ICC)