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Mandhana hits, Harmanpreet misses

Jemimah Rodrigues played some attractive strokes BCCI

Robust opening options

India may have given themselves two exciting opening options, in a bid to allow Mithali Raj to play freely at No. 3 in upcoming T20Is. Raj's strike-rate of 89.52 - the lowest among openers across teams in the tri-series with Australia and England - somewhat offset Smriti Mandhana's consistently excellent work in the Powerplay.

Option one: Jemimah Rodrigues

The 17-year old earned praise from Meg Lanning after she made a 41-ball 50 against Australia in a tall chase. Last Sunday, she made a brisk start during her 82-ball 101-run stand with Mandhana to raise hopes of an improbable ODI chase of 332. The power in her strokes was impressive, so was the clarity of her approach in the face of escalating asking rates.

Option two: Pooja Vastrakar

Pooja Vastrakar's unbeaten knocks of 19 and 22 down the order at 170.83 earned her a superior strike-rate to all her team-mates, and the third-best across teams. In the run-up to the World T20 in November, India's assignments include the Asia Cup in May, followed by the tour of Sri Lanka in September. Even though the quality of opposition will be less challenging, the gamble of letting Vastrakar, who has prior experience as an opener in the domestic circuit, have a go at the top, could prove useful.

Kauridor of uncertainty?

The white-ball destroyer in Harmanpreet Kaur, who swatted Australia aside with a record-breaking 171 not out in the World Cup semi-final hasn't surfaced since.

Following a decent run of form in South Africa, she managed only 9, 17, 25 in the ODI series, and 13, 30, 33 and 20 not out in the tri-series at an underwhelming strike-rate of 96.96. In two instances, she fell to quick bowlers and her trademark fluency against spinners has been all but visible.

This seemed to affect her captaincy too, best exhibited during Danielle Wyatt's bruising century that left India ruing their rapid bowling changes. Against Australia, she struggled to get her field placements right, even conceding a free-hit off Jhulan Goswami for having a fifth fielder outside the ring.

Then, early into the chase, in the middle of Megan Schutt's hat-trick, sending Deepti Sharma at No. 4, while demoting herself to No. 5 - for the first time in the series - seemed to make little sense. An experienced hand was needed to defuse a tight situation.

Making of Mandhana 2.0.

The clearest sign of Mandhana's evolution was not her five fifties in six innings - including 67, 76, 62 not out in the tri-series - or the brisk starts she provided India in the Powerplay. It was how, as opener and the vice-captain, she took responsibility both on the field and off it.

Mandhana followed up her prolific returns during the South Africa tour and the ODI series against Australia, with a tally of 208 runs at 69.33 in four T20Is. She has even been India's best fielder - with Rodrigues a close second - whether she was up saving a single or in the deep protecting the boundaries.

Spurring the seniors on

"We need fit players in the team and when we go for the next tournament I would suggest to the team management that we have fit players who can run all across the ground. As a captain, it is very difficult for me to run all around and set the field."

In opening up about her expectations from her team, Harmanpreet may have also spurred the 'seniors' Raj and Goswami to be better, and they did, taking three catches between them inside the circle in the very next game to go with Harmanpreet's own spectacular, diving one-handed catch near the sightscreen.