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Harmanpreet Defends Decision to Leave Mithali Out of XI

India women T20 skipper Harmanpreet Kaur defended leaving out ODI skipper Mithali Raj out of the playing XI for the first T2OI against New Zealand in Wellington on Wednesday. Kaur said that the team were looking to give youngsters like Priya Punia the opportunity of playing in foreign conditions since the next few T20 series will be back home.

Cricketnext Staff |February 7, 2019, 1:06 PM IST
Harmanpreet Defends Decision to Leave Mithali Out of XI

India women T20 skipper Harmanpreet Kaur defended leaving out ODI skipper Mithali Raj out of the playing XI for the first T2OI against New Zealand in Wellington on Wednesday. Kaur said that the team were looking to give youngsters like Priya Punia the opportunity of playing in foreign conditions since the next few T20 series will be back home.

“We are looking to give chance to the young girls. We only have these 3 overseas games and then we are playing more in Indian conditions. That’s the reason we are giving chances to the young girls,” Kaur said after the defeat in the first T20I.

Raj, who completed her 200th ODI a few days back, has not been part of the T20I squad since she was left out of the team for the Women’s World T20 semifinal. However, that didn’t prevent the team from collapsing to a 23-run defeat after being 102/1 in the 12th over.

“Bowlers did really well as this track was really good to bat on. We still restricted them to 159. But in the last 10 overs we didn’t bat well,” the Indian skipper said.

On areas they need to improve before the second T20I on Friday, Harmanpreet said, “We need to improve our batting in the last 10 overs. That is the area we are always struggling. We need someone who can give us a good strike-rate when we are finishing the innings.”

Opener Smriti Mandhana, who smashed 58 off 38 balls touched on the need to bat through the innings and be more careful with shot selection.

"Tactically, the best option according to me is that I bat all through. But we will have a discussion about this and I feel it is better that one of the top batters bat through till the 18th over or so, so that after that the rest can rally around them," Mandhana said after the match.

"You have to pick the areas and go for the correct shots. And when we had the run rate under control, under seven, my shot was a bad one to play.

"We were cruising till the 12th over, but in T20 there is always a chance of a collapse and we have to be watchful from now on. I don’t think it’s a good idea to think much about the past and we will have to think about the next match."

White Ferns’ Lea Tahuhu was named the player-of-the-match after claiming 3/20 in four overs. Tahuhu was pleased with the fight back by the hosts after the early onslaught by Smriti Mandhana.

“I am pretty bounced to be honest. We didn’t have the start that we wanted but to be able to come back and pull that one out of the bag is pretty great,” the 28-year-old medium-pacer said.

“We adjusted our plans mid-way through the innings seeing that they got off to a flyer. It was just about keeping calm,” Tahuhu added.

NZ skipper Amy Satterthwaite felt the catch by Hannah Rowe to dismiss Mandhana sparked the comeback.

“I am feeling a lot better now. After the first half of the Indian innings, I was a little bit concerned. Our catches were outstanding and the catch by Rowe really sparked our comeback,” Satterthwaite said.

“We kept saying that if we get a couple of wickets, the run-rate will start climbing. That’s what we managed to do by picking wickets at regular intervals,” she added.

The White Ferns skipper also credited the improved batting performance led by Sophie Devine’s 62 and her own 33-run knock to reach the total that they did.

“I think the partnerships we built were crucial. That’s what we didn’t get right in the ODI series. We did that out there today and helped us put a good total,” Satterthwaite said.

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