'India top order should bat 20 overs' - Smriti Mandhana

Smriti Mandhana struck a 37-ball 66 Getty Images

From the outside, it looks like India's women's team has a problem with its middle order. The team is gearing up for the T20 World Cup - the preparation included playing the favourites Australia and England recently, and a theme that emerged from that tri-series is that they are prone to collapses.

Playing on one of the grounds which will host those World Cup matches in a few days' time, India were on course for victory in the final, until they lost seven wickets for 29 runs. The collapse began with Smriti Mandhana's wicket in the 15th over and led to a stinging critique from former India captain Diana Edulji, who called the players "lazy".

On Saturday, Mandhana admitted the collapses - there was one against England as well, when India went from 78 for 3 to 99 for 9 - were a cause for concern but that there was a way around it.

"The middle order could definitely improve," she said. "There are some things we still have to figure out with our batting and we are trying hard to do that.

"The best way to support the middle order is for the top order to bat 20 overs. I think we need to try and bat long as a top four. We must try not to get out in the 16th or 17th over and the problem will be sorted if we can stay until the 20th over."

India do contain players capable of pulling this off. Mandhana herself is a prime candidate alongside the captain Harmanpreet Kaur and the two teenagers Jemimah Rodrigues and Shafali Verma. This too was readily apparent in the tri-series when India chased down a target of 174 against Australia.

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Australia had put up what seemed like a winning total riding on Ash Gardner's 93 off 57 balls but India were able to cruise the chase, losing only three of their wickets. Mandhana held the innings together with a steady half-century while Verma (49 off 28) and Rodrigues (30 off 19) had the liberty to clatter the ball to all parts. That game exemplified why Australia coach Matthew Mott rated India as having the most feared batting line-up in the world.

"We can be very unpredictable on our day, but I'd like to agree (with Mott)," Mandhana said in response. "We have some great batters and our order is very balanced. The top four or five are quite settled. We've had the same top five for the last year and that's been a good thing for us."