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Massively improved Indian team from one that lost to Australia in T20 WC, says Mandhana

Brisbane, September 14: Opener Smriti Mandhana says the Indian women's team has improved "massively" since the 2020 T20 World Cup final defeat to Australia and will be "extra competitive" during the tour Down Under.

India and Australia are set to clash in a multi-format series comprising three ODIs, a day-night Test, which will be India's first, and three T20s. All the matches will be played in Queensland.

Before the ODIs get underway on September 21 at the Harrup Park in Mackay, Oueensland, the teams will play a warm-up match on Saturday (September 18). The second and third ODIs will be played on September 24 and September 26 respectively.

Meanwhile, the only Test will be played from September 30 to October 3 at the Carra Oval in Queensland, which will also host the three T20s that will be held on October 7, October 9 and October 10.

The last time the two sides met at the women's T20 World Cup final at the MCG, the hosts hammered India by 85 runs to lift the trophy. But, Mandhana feels the side has seen massive growth since that match.

"The team has grown massively (since the T20 World Cup)," Mandhana told 'The Scoop podcast'.

The Indian squad finished its 14-day hard hotel quarantine on Monday (September 13). And the southpaw said that after the COVID-19 enforced break, the Indian team is slowly getting back into the rhythm of playing cricket.

"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. Hopefully the series goes well for the whole team"

India come into the Tour Down Under after a multi-format series against England in June and July, while a few players like white-ball skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, teen batting sensation Shafali Verma and Mandhana also featured in The Hundred tournament.

The swashbuckling opener, who is the only Indian woman to score a century in Australia, a 102 at Blundstone Arena in 2016, said playing against Meg Lanning and Co. is always competitive and the team tends to enjoy batting on the bouncy tracks Down Under.

"We all love playing against Australia, because they are one of the best teams in the world and quite competitive," Mandhana said.

"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."

The opener, who holds the record for the highest T20I score in the country by an Indian woman, said everyone likes batting on bouncy tracks and the team is also looking forward to play its first-ever pink ball game.

"Australian wickets have a true bounce and I think everyone loves batting in Australia. No one will tell you they don't like batting in Australia," Mandhana said.

"We are all just really happy to play cricket, whatever the quarantine period may be."

(With PTI inputs)

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Story first published: Tuesday, September 14, 2021, 11:31 [IST]
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