CommBank Series v India - ODIs
Improved Indians eyeing an Aussie upset: Mandhana
Thumped in last year's T20 World Cup final, the Indian side has 'grown massively' since with series against South Africa and England and are ready to take it to Australia
14 September 2021, 12:02 PM AEST
Smriti Mandhana says her India teammates have shown considerable improvement since their heavy T20 World Cup final defeat and are confident of upsetting Australia on home soil across the next month.
The fierce rivals will go head-to-head in three ODIs, one day-night Test and three T20Is, as Meg Lanning's No.1 ranked team are pitted against an occasionally inconsistent India side that is nonetheless full of flair and boasting some of the world's most exciting young talent.
The tour officially kicks off in Mackay on September 21, but the teams will get an early look at one another on Saturday when they play a warm-up match in Brisbane.
Last time they met was at the MCG on March 8 last year when Australia romped to their fifth title with an 85-run victory in front of 86,174 fans.
Mandhana said her teammates worked hard at their games in the aftermath of that T20 World Cup final defeat, during what was a lengthy gap between international tours; it took almost a year for India to play their next international match, but they have since hosted South Africa and toured the United Kingdom.
"The team has grown massively," Mandhana told The Scoop podcast.
"COVID was a big break after the T20 World Cup and a lot of girls had a chance to go back and understand more about their games, where they lack as an individual and come back stronger.
"The whole team has worked on their fitness and skills … we are still getting into a rhythm of playing matches continuously but the last five, six months we have been playing cricket and now we are getting back into the match mindset."
That World Cup final aside, India have had a knack for upsetting Australia in recent years, and Mandhana believes the challenge of taking on the world's best team lifts them to another level.
Famously, there was the 2017 World Cup semi-final in Derby where Harmanpreet Kaur's monster 171no propelled her team into the final, while Poonam Yadav had Australia in a spin in last year's T20 World Cup opener in Sydney.
"We all love playing against Australia, because they are one of the best teams in the world and quite competitive," Mandhana said.
"When it's when it comes to Australia, you're a bit more pumped because the level of competitiveness the Australian team, it just rubs off on us and we also start being extra competitive."
India have won just one series in Australia, a three-match T20I tour in early 2016, and have never won a Test down under.
But with young talent like Shafali Verma in the XI alongside the game's greatest female run scorer Mithali Raj, and its greatest female wicket taker in Jhulan Goswami, India will be out to make history this time around.
The key, however, may lay in Mandhana, the only Indian woman to score a century in Australia – the superb 102 she scored at Blundstone Arena aged 19 in 2016 – while she also holds the record for the highest T20I score in the country by an Indian woman.
"Australian wickets have a true bounce and I think everyone loves batting in Australia," Mandhana said.
"No one will tell you they don't like batting in Australia."
India will head into series in arguably better shape than the hosts, having played England across all three formats in the United Kingdom in June and July.
Australia, who are without their two highest ranked bowlers in Jess Jonassen and Megan Schutt, have not played since their tour of New Zealand in April, and were not even able to come together for a training camp throughout the winter due to border closures.
India's 22-player squad were released from a fortnight of hard hotel quarantine on Monday, as were the 12 members of Australia's 18-player group hailing from Sydney and Melbourne.
"We are all just really happy to play cricket, whatever the quarantine period may be," Mandhana said.
CommBank Series v India
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Darcie Brown, Maitlan Brown, Stella Campbell, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Georgia Redmayne, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
India Test and ODI squad: Mithali Raj (c), Harmanpreet Kaur (vc), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Shikha Pandey, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh, Ekta Bisht.
India T20I squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Shikha Pandey, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh (wk), Harleen Deol, Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav, Renuka Singh.
Sep 30 – Oct 3: Test match, Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast (D/N)