Since the time the possibility of having a full-fledged women's Indian Premier League (IPL) has come, many have been wondering that the upcoming women's T20 Challenge, starting from Monday at MCA Stadium, will be the last edition of the three-team event.Now, opener Smriti Mandhana, captain of defending champions Trailblazers, feels that while participating in the three-team event, the intention was always to produce their best cricket for women's IPL to start quickly. Mandhana's Trailblazers will open their title defence on Monday against Harmanpreet Kaur's Supernovas."We all were really excited when we heard we would get an exhibition match which would lead up to IPL in some years. We always had this in our mind that we have to put out the best cricket possible to have a women's IPL as early as we can," said Mandhana in the pre-match virtual press conference."This tournament has been great in that sense that people are getting to see more of domestic talent.
We have got a few talents out of this tournament like we saw Shafali (Verma) in Jaipur and kind of picked up from here. There were a few girls who came out of this tournament when we saw them at this stage, so this tournament has been good for the last three-four years," added the left-hander.
Mandhana acknowledged that with just two matches available, apart from the final, giving chances to uncapped Indian cricketers will be a challenge. "We have to be really practical about a few things like we have four overseas players in the playing eleven and have only three matches at our disposal. As much as we want to give opportunities to uncapped Indian players, it's not going to be like completely that we will go out there and decide this is how we will give opportunities.""In the last edition also, we tried to give (chances) as this is an Indian women's T20 challenge and we would want our uncapped players to go out there and play something which is very close to international cricket. Two or three matches are very less to give opportunities to everyone but let's see how it goes.
"Mandhana is entering the tournament on the back of captaining Maharashtra to the runners-up trophy in the senior women's T20 League, including starring with a 56-ball 84 in the title clash, and hopes to continue the good run in the women's T20 Challenge with a year majorly of T20 cricket awaiting the Indian team."Personally, I have been working on T20 cricket now because we have a lot of T20s to be played in this one year. So, definitely trying to play a bit more shots than I used to play. I am working a lot on those things and will be good to go out there as we had a good T20 domestic season and just looking to continue that in this tournament."Mandhana signed off by saying that her team will put its best foot forward in countering the spin challenge from Supernovas. "Almost all the girls know each other, especially now that we have played one month of domestic cricket together. We have our strategies ready. They have a good bowling line-up, especially the spinners like Sophie (Ecclestone) and (Alana) King. All of us know how we want to play our match tomorrow."