A lot of hard work behind the scenes - Mandhana on RCB revival

WPL 2024

I was at mid-off and it [that Perry spell] was just a sight to watch.

Smriti Mandhana, the RCB women's skipper, has said that the team has put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes after a dismal opening season in the WPL. RCB failed to make it to the playoffs of the inaugural edition, something they rectified this year with a crushing win over holders Mumbai Indians confirming their progression.

"We couldn't step up and play the cricket we wanted to play [last year]," she said. "But yeah, last one year, a lot of thoughts have gone into this. A lot of hard work behind the scenes, not only from my side but all the support staff, and the RCB management. For them to show their faith in all of us was just amazing.

"You know, the only conversation they had was that 'this is your team, make it the way you want to'. So that was really nice from their side to do that. And yeah, I wouldn't say that [this has been a] really satisfying campaign still, but we had a lot of ups and downs. We started off really well and then had a little bit of dip. But that's how WPL and T20 cricket is. You'll have good days and bad days."

Even though Ellyse Perry's magical spell bowled MI out for just 113, Mandhana pointed out that there were no guarantees of victory at the half-way stage. "In cricket halfway you can't be thinking that we are going to win the game because it's a game of cricket and anything can happen," she said.

"So definitely the way Perry bowled was just brilliant to watch. I was at mid-off and it was just a sight to watch, the way she was seaming the ball was really nice. And, yeah, I think we knew that the wicket is not that easy and we have to actually put in good work with the bat. I'm really happy with the way Richa and Pez [Perry] finished it."

Mandhana revealed that they were determined to not worry about the results around them for their qualification and instead focussed on winning the games they had in hand. "We always knew that out of the two if we win any - even that 1-run game - we would have made the knockouts. So, we are not looking at what other teams are doing or what's happening, what's the equation, the net run rate etc because that can sometimes really take away the cricket. We talked about 'let's treat it as a quarterfinal, a semifinal and then the final, and not make it too complicated. Let's go out there and play the best cricket we can', and that's what we've tried to do.

"And yeah, we didn't really complicate it a lot. We just spoke on things which went away in the Delhi match and things that didn't go our way. We had decent chats and one-on-ones with a lot of the players. And including Luke [Williams, the head coach]. He's been just amazing just handling the whole group and their emotions. Especially I think with RCB and the kind of fan base [it has], it's not an easy thing to come in in your first year and be able to do that. As Indians we are used to it. But for someone from coming outside to do that, I think he's just done an amazing job. Even the support staff I think they have been brilliant."

The 27-year-old also had a word of praise for the local Indian players who have made a mark ever since the inception of the WPL. "It's just amazing to watch the domestic talent growing. You've seen a lot of stories which I think it started from the first first match for a girl from Kerala to hit six off the first ball of WPL is something I don't think I would have [pulled off] had I been an inexperienced, uncapped player. That was something in front of the whole crowd. And then of course I would miss some names so I wouldn't name anyone but it's just been amazing to watch the whole tournament the way Indians have stepped up.

"Even I think, you know, the way Deepti [Sharma] batted yesterday was just brilliant to watch. Of course, she's an experienced player but, again, the kind of responsibility and the way she batted was just amazing. And I think overall it's just been a really nice thing for the crowds to turn up and the Indian girls getting exposed to that. Definitely Chinnaswamy was the loudest ever I have played at so it was really something for the domestic girls to feel it. So yeah, I'm really happy and really looking forward to have these people you know in the setup somewhere and mixed in the international setup somewhere."