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Mandhana set to make India return against West Indies

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Smriti Mandhana.

Khel Today Bureau 
New Delhi: India bowling coach Troy Cooley is hopeful Smriti Mandhana will be fit to make her first appearance of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 against West Indies on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old sat out India’s opening group match, a seven-wicket win over Pakistan, due to a finger injury.

But India’s star opener appears set to return for the clash at Newlands having come through a pre-match training session unscathed.

“She has been working very hard and she will be assessed after training,” Cooley said.

“She did everything that needed to be done and we are pretty confident she got through the session OK.”

Jemimah Rodrigues stepped up in Mandhana’s absence against Pakistan, firing an unbeaten 53 from 38 deliveries to guide her side past their arch-rivals with an over to spare.

Cooley was delighted to start on the front foot and had reassuring words for Deepti Sharma, who saw her four overs cost 39 in Sunday’s contest.

“She bowled three overs in the powerplay and one at the death with three fielders out,” Cooley said.

“We know those are high pressure situations but who better to give the ball to than someone like Deepti? She is an exceptional player.

“The girls are very good at reviewing their own performances and they are very open to input.

“Deepti is one of our key players and she will go for a few runs some days, that’s the nature of T20, but she bowled in the high pressure situations and we believe she did a good job.”

West Indies are well aware of the threat posed by Sharma, who was influential in January’s two tri-series meetings between the sides.

Sharma followed up figures of two for 29 by taking three for 11 as India triumphed by 56 runs and eight wickets respectively, leaving West Indies looking to upset the form book as they seek a first win of the competition.

“We know where we went wrong [in the tri-series],” said wicketkeeper Rashada Williams.

“We know where we fell short, so it’s just for us to go there and turn up on the day.

“India will be coming hard and they are more aggressive in their latter part of their innings, so it’s just for us to control the game for as long as possible, especially in the last five because we know they’re going to come hard.

“We have to try and restrict them by bowling in the right areas.”

West Indies were beaten by England in their opener, leaving the 2016 champions under no illusions as to the challenge ahead if they are to target the latter stages this time around.

“After losing our first game, it’s important that we come out and perform to our best of our abilities against India,” she said.

“We need everyone to be on their A game.”

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