WPL: 'Our team balance has improved this season', says RCB captain Smriti Mandhana

February 19, 2024
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Smriti Mandhana, the captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the Women’s Premier League

Bengaluru, Feb 19 (IANS) Smriti Mandhana, the captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the Women’s Premier League (WPL), believes the balance of her side has improved ahead of the 2024 season.

Despite many star players, RCB failed to enter the knockouts in the inaugural season of the WPL last year, finishing at fourth place in the points table. The franchise will commence their 2024 WPL season when they play their first game on February 24 against the UP Warriorz at their home ground M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

“I would definitely want it to be better than the first season. From RCB’s point of view, quite a few players were released and we brought in new players. So, the balance has improved for sure, and we are hoping to live up to our potential.”

“Playing in the domestic season helped me practice well and we saw quite a few girls against whom we’ve not played previously. I was able to recommend a few names to my franchise after seeing these girls.”

“Last year, when we joined the team two days before the tournament, we didn’t know about 90% of the players. We didn’t know what they did and what they didn’t. This year, it was important to know their strengths and weaknesses so that we can play better. The WPL is a short tournament and it’s difficult to change things when it’s on,” said Smriti on JioCinema.

Asked if RCB shape up as title contenders of WPL 2024, Smriti said, “We don’t want to think too far ahead. We definitely want to do better than last year and are motivated to do it. The people at our franchise are very nice and have supported us immensely, so more than anything else, we want to win the trophy for them.”

“The way they backed us even after four losses last season, the conversation revolved around our well-being. So, as players, it is very important that we respect the backing we are getting, and also try to win the trophy for our fans who supported us so much last season.”

Smriti had a forgettable time with the bat in WPL 2023, making just 149 runs in eight matches at an average of 18.62 and strike-rate of 111.19. “Last year, I was not able to deliver the performance expected of me. This time, I don’t want to repeat the mistakes of last year and give the team a platform from where we can launch. Our batting line-up is very good. As a captain, I know the players better this time,” she added.

Her RCB team-mate, fast-bowler Renuka Singh Thakur, didn’t have a great WPL 2023, but is now keen to put up a better performance. “Last year my performance was not up to the mark, and I was wondering where this problem lay. The RCB team and the captain backed me whole-heartedly.”

“In fact, I had given up, but they backed me. This time, I would not want to let them down and am confident of doing well. Last year, I think, I lacked that confidence because of the back injury.

Similar views were echoed by Deepti Sharma, all-rounder of UP Warriorz. “This time we’ll try to enter the final and also win the trophy. Personally, I want to put up a better performance than 2023.”

–IANS

nr/bc

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