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No Huge Changes in Terms of Preparation: Mandhana on Captaincy

Smriti Mandhana has been ruling the batting charts for India in recent times and has been a major reason for the team's success across all formats. She recently became the top-ranked batter in the 50-over format but the left-hander will face a new challenge on Monday (March 4) in the first Twenty20 International against England when she heads out for her maiden assignment as India captain.

However, the 22-year-old insisted that her preparation for the three-match series won't change now that she has is leading the side.

"I have been vice-captain for two years and I have been attending all team meetings. So, I don't think anything in terms of preparation will change," said Mandhana in Guwahati ahead of the first T20I.

"I knew already what we will do before the match even when I was not the captain. I'll probably make the extra effort to speak to bowlers more. Otherwise, it is the same routine that I always follow.

"I've played under a lot of captains. I've been able to learn a lot. For me as a captain, it's important to be a player's captain. It should be what they want out of me. And not what I tell them what I want. I want to help every teammate in growing. That's what I am looking forward to."

The Indian side have had a successful time in the One-Day Internationals but their T20 form has not been great. India won the 50-over series in New Zealand recently but were whitewashed 3-0 in the T20Is. While Mandhana was the top-scorer across both sides with 186 runs in three games there was very little of note from the other batters.

Without the services of Harmanpreet Kaur, the Indian unit looks even weaker and that is something Mandhana said has been a point of discussion ahead of the England T20Is.

"Me and (W.V.) Raman Sir spoke about the things that we lacked in New Zealand tour and the way our batting order will be shaping for the next World Cup," said Mandhana. "It is a really exciting time because we have such a young side but they have to take more responsibility. We have discussed the batting order and hopefully, it'll come good tomorrow."

There are plenty of young faces in the Indian unit for the three T20Is, one of them being Himachal Pradesh all-rounder Harleen Deol, who was brought into the side as replacement for the injured Harmanpreet. Deol gave a good account of herself during the Challenger Trophy and was effective in the two warm-up games against England prior to the ODIs as well.

A leg-spinner who can score useful runs in the lower-middle order, Deol is also is an exceptional fielder and Mandhana reckons she will have a huge role to play in the 20-over format for India in future.

"She (Harleen Deol) is a brilliant player. For a T20 format she is a perfect all-rounder," said Mandhana. "She can bowl you those two-three overs consistently, gives a lot as a batter, and is a brilliant fielder. She will be having a huge role to play in T20s for India in future.

"We are looking to win the series and not just looking it as an auditioning for newer faces. It is important that we go into the series with a mindset of winning rather than just experimenting. First goal definitely is to win the series."

Mandhana also asserted the importance of not mixing captaincy with batting insisting that she was not taking any undue pressure now that she is leading the side. On the contrary, the southpaw suggested that extra responsibility that comes with captaincy might help her focus more while batting.

"Batting is a totally different aspect for me while captaincy is a totally different aspect. Mixing it will complicate things. Batting-wise you never know with the additional responsibility of captaincy I might bat longer and play all 20 overs," she remarked.

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