Happy that I have found some nick before World Cup: Smriti Mandhana

Smriti Mandhana hit nine fours in her 84-ball 71 to set up India's win in the final ODI.

Smriti Mandhana
Smriti Mandhana. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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Indian women’s opener Smriti Mandhana played a vital knock of 71 in the fifth ODI against New Zealand to ensure that the visitors weren’t whitewashed against the white ferns. Mandhana wasn’t part of the playing XI for the first three games as her quarantine got extended after testing positive for Covid-19. She came into the playing XI in the rain-affected fourth ODI and could manage just 13 runs, however, she made up for it with a match-winning inning in the final game.

The Indian bowling attack struggled to defend scores against New Zealand despite putting enough runs on board and it will definitely be a concern ahead of the World Cup. However, the much-improved bowling effort in the final game had restricted the hosts to 251 and the onus was one of the experienced batters to take India home.

Having lost Shafali Verma early, Mandhana took her time to get her eye in and flourished with nine boundaries thereafter to keep up with the required rate. Along with Mandhana’s 71, out of form batter, Harmanpreet Kaur got some crucial runs under her belt with a valiant 63 run knock that sealed the victory for India and skipper Mithali Raj contributed with an unbeaten half-century as well.

A big advantage for the whole team before the World Cup: Smriti Mandhana

Mandhana credited the Indian bowlers for setting up the win and noted the wicket being really good to bat on. She was delighted to be among the runs and felt that the series have helped the side immensely ahead of the World Cup in March. The 25-year-old will have a big role to play at the top if India has to be successful in the World Cup.

“I think our bowlers did a fantastic job by restricting them to 250. The wicket was a good one to bat one, so all (Harmanpreet, Mithali, and I) of us contributed. I am happy that I have found some nick before the World Cup. I think this series was a big advantage for the whole team before the World Cup. We have had quite close matches, and all the girls are confident going into the World Cup. This win will help us and hopefully, we will take the confidence and momentum into the World Cup,” Mandhana told after the match