Updated March 16th, 2024 at 16:32 IST

'What happened with men...': Smriti Mandhana opens up on RCB's struggle to win IPL title in 17 years

RCB have the chance to script history as they might finally win their first trophy as a team when they take Delhi Capitals in the WPL 2024 final.

Will Smriti Mandhana become first RCB skipper to win a title? | Image:WPL/X.com
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Royal Challengers Bangalore managed to reach the final of the Women's Premier League after they defeated Mumbai Indians by 5 runs in the WPL Eliminator on Friday. In a fiercely contested match, RCB prevailed in a tense situation as MI needed 12 runs to win off the last over but Asha Shobhana bowled brilliantly to set up RCB's win.  

Now, RCB have the chance to script history as they might finally win their first trophy as a team. However, skipper Smriti Mandhana doesn't want to put too much pressure on her side ahead of the WPL 2024 final against Delhi Capitals on Sunday, and added that she is not in the mood for comparisons with their men's team counterparts in the IPL.

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The RCB men's team has failed to win a single IPL title in the last 17 years, finishing runners-up thrice (2009, 2011, 2016). But just into the second WPL season, the Mandhana-led women's team has a great chance to win the title on Sunday.

"Firstly, I think this year was really important for us to connect to the whole franchise with what's happened with the men, sometimes it puts pressure.

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"So we were just thinking that we are two seasons into it, so let's not put too much stress. So not really co-relating with what happened with the men's team," Mandhana said in the post-match press conference after defeating Mumbai Indians by five runs in the Eliminator here on Friday.

RCB did not have a very good first edition of the WPL last year, finishing fourth in the league standings, but Mandhana believes it is important to live in the present.

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"What cricket has taught is it is important to live in the present. It's just about playing good cricket on that particular day, whoever plays the best cricket tomorrow is going to win," she said.

"Last year wasn't the greatest campaign for RCB. (But) the conversation in the last 25 days has always been around we are enjoying each other's company, really focussed on the process, training well. So doesn't change anything. We are not changing anything overnight because it is a final." The left-handed opener has high regard for rival captain Meg Lanning of DC, but she feels a skipper is always as good as the team.

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"We give a lot of importance to the role of captain but the captain is as good as the team. Nothing changes tomorrow, we are playing a good Delhi Capitals side, who have played some amazing cricket over the last two seasons," Mandhana said.

"I always looked up to her (Lanning), little conversation with someone who understands batting as much as she does really helps. Really taught me how to look up to other players. From the time I (made my) debut, Lanning was the top run scorer for Australia. It's been nice to watch the way she has gone about." DC skipper Lanning hoped her side plays its best cricket of the tournament on Sunday and lifts the title, which eluded them last year.

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DC finished finished runners-up in 2023 after losing to Mumbai Indians in the final.

"We are really in a good space heading into tomorrow. It's going to be a cracking game. We are really excited to be involved, give ourselves an opportunity to go out there and win it," Lanning said.

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"We are looking forward to taking it on and play our best game of the tournament." Lanning doesn't want to think about what happened last year, saying they are only focussed on a taking on a very good RCB side on Sunday.

"RCB has played some excellent cricket, they played some great cricket when they were under the pump. What a challenge for our group to go out there and take them on. I have got full confidence that we will be able to deliver what we need to," she said.

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"I don't think we thought about what happened in the last year. It's important what happens tomorrow. It's about performing on the day. The experience of last year helps in a way but it doesn't drive us any thing differently. It's pretty cool we get the chance to do it again." 

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Published March 16th, 2024 at 16:32 IST