Mandhana all praise for bowlers after series win

India dished out an impressive bowling display in both spin and pace departments, choking Sri Lanka to a paltry 125/7 after the home side was 87 for no loss inside 14 overs. In reply, India overcame some early hiccups to secure the series-clinching win and take an unassailable 2-0 lead.
India women celebrate the fall of a Sri Lankan wicket
India women celebrate the fall of a Sri Lankan wicket

DAMBULLA: Star India opener Smriti Mandhana hailed her side’s bowling unit for getting the job done as it clinched the three-match Women’s T20 International series against Sri Lanka with a five-wicket win in the second match here on Saturday.

India dished out an impressive bowling display in both spin and pace departments, choking Sri Lanka to a paltry 125/7 after the home side was 87 for no loss inside 14 overs. In reply, India overcame some early hiccups to secure the series-clinching win and take an unassailable 2-0 lead.

“They (bowlers) did a really good job and also in the last match to defend 139,” Mandhana said at the post-match press conference.

The Indian bowlers struggled to get a breakthrough early on as the Sri Lankan opening duo of skipper Chamari Athapaththu (43) and Vishmi Gunaratne (45) gave the host a solid start.

“We didn’t have to tell them much. It was just about following our game plan as a bowling unit and sticking to it. We knew one or two wickets here and there will get us back in the game.”

The Romesh Powar-coached team has left out the likes of Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey and Sneh Rana, and fielded the likes of Pooja Vastrakar, Renuka Singh, Simran Bahadur and Meghna Singh. The Indian spin attack, on the other hand, had the likes of Deepti Sharma, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Radha Yadav.

During her knock of 34-ball 39, Mandhana became the second fastest Indian woman to score 2,000 T20I runs. She reached the feat in her 84th innings, becoming the third Indian woman after the legendary Mithali Raj (70 innings) and current skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (88 innings) to cross the mark. Mandhana and her opening partner Shafali Verma got off to a flier and the left-hander said it was about backing their strengths.

“Shafali and I stuck to our game plan. We knew which bowlers to target, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” she said.

“Later on after the power-play, it was more about singles and doubles and not whom to attack as we had only 126 to get. It was about rotating strike and dealing in one and twos.”

After the departure of Mandhana, India stuttered in the middle overs but skipper Harmanpreet Kaur anchored the chase with an unbeaten 31 from 32 deliveries.

Mandhana said the wicket was difficult to bat on.

BRIEF SCORES: Sri Lanka 125/7 in 20 overs (V Gunaratne 45, C Athapaththu 43) lost to India 127/5 in 19.1 overs

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