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“Our team balance has improved”: RCB skipper Mandhana ahead of WPL 2024

The second season of WPL will start from February 23 and will go on till March 17, taking place in Bengaluru and Delhi. Last time around, RCB could not deliver fine performances despite having big names like Ellyse Perry, Heather Knight, Mandhana, Sophie Devine, Megan Schutt and Renuka Thakur in the squad, winning just two out of their eight matches and not qualifying for playoffs.

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smriti madhana, rcb, Royal Challengers Bangalore

Star India batter and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper Smriti Mandhana said that ahead of the new season of the Women’s Premier League (WPL), the balance of the team has improved and the team hopes to live up to its potential. The second season of WPL will start from February 23 and will go on till March 17, taking place in Bengaluru and Delhi. Last time around, RCB could not deliver fine performances despite having big names like Ellyse Perry, Heather Knight, Mandhana, Sophie Devine, Megan Schutt and Renuka Thakur in the squad, winning just two out of their eight matches and not qualifying for playoffs.

In a conversation with JioCinema and Sports18 WPL expert Reema Malhotra, in the show titled ‘TATA WPL 2024 Huddle’, RCB skipper Mandhana, her teammate Renuka Singh Thakur spoke of their expectations from the second edition of the league. Smriti Mandhana, captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore said: “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 have 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 did not know about 90 per cent of the players. We did not know what they did and what they did not. 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,” she added. On whether RCB are title contender, Mandhana said that the side does not want to think too far ahead but is motivated to do better this time.

“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,” she added. Mandhana admitted that she failed to deliver as per expectations last season, scoring just 149 runs in eight matches at an average of just over 18. Her best score was 37.

“This time, I do not 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. Even RCB pacer Renuka said that her performance was not up to the mark last year (taking just one wicket in six games) and the team and captain backed her.

“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 wholeheartedly. 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,” said the pacer. Royal Challengers Bangalore (WPL 2024)-Squad strength: 18 (6 overseas)

Players bought: Georgia Wareham (Rs 40 lakh), Kate Cross (Rs 30 lakh), Ekta Bisht (Rs 60 lakh), Shubha Satheesh (Rs 10 lakh), S Meghana (Rs 30 lakh), Simran Bahadur (Rs 30 lakh), Sophie Molineux (Rs 30 lakh) Full squad: Asha Shobana, Disha Kasat, Ellyse Perry, Heather Knight, Indrani Roy, Kanika Ahuja, Renuka Singh, Richa Ghosh, Shreyanka Patil, Smriti Mandhana, Sophie Devine, Georgia Wareham, Kate Cross, Ekta Bisht, Shubha Satheesh, S Meghana, Simran Bahadur, Sophie Molineux.

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