Smriti Mandhana demotes herself to number 8 to help youngsters get game time during domestic red-ball game | Cricket

With an intention to allow younger players to get more exposure, Indian top-order batter Smriti Mandhana demoted herself to number eight while batting during the 2024 Interzonal Multi-Day Trophy match between her sides West Zone and Central Zone on Friday.

Royal Challengers Bangalore's captain Smriti Mandhana plays a shot(AFP)
Royal Challengers Bangalore’s captain Smriti Mandhana plays a shot(AFP)

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) introduced the women’s domestic red-ball tournament after six years once again, holding this tournament since March 28. All the matches that are being played in Pune are a golden opportunity for many youngsters and seniors alike to play red-ball cricket, something that is not a very regular and consistent fixture in international cricket.

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Understanding how crucial these matches are for the development of young cricketers, skipper Mandhana, usually a top-order batter for India at the international level, pushed herself down the order, allowing youngsters to bat up the order. Riya Chaudhari and Devika Vaidya started the innings for West Zone. The former is playing her first-ever multi-day game, while Vaidya is playing her first first-class game since 2017. Mandhana, on the other hand, has much more experience, having played six women’s Tests, including two just last year in December, as per Wisden.

The left-hander always opened for her side in her ten first-class games previously.

Central Zone’s first-inning score was 245 and in reply, West Zone sank to 98/4 in 25 overs. But Smriti did not put her experienced hands to use to arrest the collapse, putting her trust in a young Anuja Patil, who responded with a well-made 122 runs.

Jemimah Rodrigues, another regular Indian team member, playing for West Zone, walked out to bat at number three but retired hurt after scoring her fifty. She returned to the pitch after the fall of the ninth wicket and was the last player out for 69 runs.

Mandhana scored a half-century in 52 balls. She promoted Yastika Bhatia, Humairaa Kaazi, Patil and Radha Yadav above her and allowed them to get some valuable game time. The gesture met plenty of positive reactions and praise from players.

West Zone scored 356 in the end, securing a 111-run lead. Mandhana also rolled her arms over for an over in the second inning.


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