Smriti Mandhana has been in fine touch with the bat. After 105 in the first ODI against New Zealand women's team, Mandhana played another glorious innings in the second game. However, she missed out on her second consecutive hundred by 10 runs and remained unbeaten on 90*. India won the second ODI by 8 wickets and took a lead of 2-0 in three-match series.
Mandhana was picked as the Player of the Match in both the ODIs. However, it was not only her lone performance which won India the series. Indian bowlers managed to bowl out New Zealand women team in both the matches.
Even Smriti is aware of it and hence she promised to give away her award to bowlers in the team. For India, it was Jhulan Goswami's 3/23 which remained the best performance with the ball. India bowled out the White Ferns on just 161 way lower than the first ODI's 192.
"162 was a very easy total to chase. I will be giving this award to all the bowlers in the team. They deserve it for restricting New Zealand to 161 on such a good wicket," Mandhana said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Mandhana found it easy to bat in the New Zealand conditions. She credited BCCI's 10-day camp in Napier ahead of the series. "I thought today was an Indian wicket more than the New Zealand conditions. We had a camp before the first one-day for 10 days. BCCI has done really good to give us 10 days camp at Napier and we could get acclimatized to the conditions."
She is mocked by her teammates for smiling all the time during batting. "I don't know why I end up smiling. All the teammates make fun of me, they are always trying to mock me saying I always smile whenever I get a short ball. I think I'd love to figure out how to make a serious face," Mandhana added.
Mithali Raj lauded the team effort which secures the series for the team. "I am happy with the series to win in New Zealand and I'm happy the way the team is shaping because even the bowlers are doing their job. There are batters like the first game, we had the openers doing the job for us and this time around, my partnership with Smriti. So overall, the team looks good," Mithali said in the post-match presentation.
Mandhana is in an amazing form and the slow track at Mount Maunganui suited her gameplay, feels Mithali.
"Well, I have always enjoyed batting in challenging conditions. I knew that today's wicket is on the slower side and will help the spinners and it's not going to be easy. It's not a wicket where the ball is coming on to the bat and it requires patience. Smriti is in good form, someone has to give her the support on the other end," she further said.
India has a great opportunity to clean sweep New Zealand at their home. "When you have a good run, you would want to continue it. We are definitely looking for 3-0," Mithali said.
(With India Today Inputs)