Captain Smriti Mandhana pushed herself to No.8 during her team West Zone’s multi-format game against Central Zone today (March 29) to allow the players to get more exposure.

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After six years, the BCCI reintroduced a women’s red-ball domestic tournament, with the 2024 Senior Women’s Inter-Zonal Multi-Day Trophy being held from March 28. All games will be played in Pune and offer a chance for several players to play a professional red-ball match for the first time in many years.

Acknowledging the magnitude of the occasion, West Zone skipper Mandhana, who usually opens in cricket, decided to push herself down the order, allowing the youngsters in her team to get the experience of batting in a multi-day game. In her place, Riya Chaudhari and Devika Vaidya opened the batting for West Zone. The former is making her first multi-day game, while Vaidya last played a first-class match in 2017. Mandhana, on the other hand, has played six Women’s Tests, including two in December 2023.

The left-hander has always opened in her ten first-class games, making this the first time she batted below No.2.

Up against Central Zone’s first innings score of 245, West Zone were reduced to 98-4 within 25 overs but Mandhana did not walk out to arrest the collapse. Her faith was repaid as Anuja Patil struck 122, which brought West Zone back in the game.

Jemimah Rodrigues, another regular in the Indian team, who is also playing for West Zone, walked out to bat at No.3 in the innings but retired hurt soon after crossing her fifty. She eventually returned after the fall of the ninth wicket and was the last batter dismissed, falling for 69.

Mandhana, who also scored a fifty in 52 deliveries, promoted Yastika Bhatia, Humairaa Kaazi, Patil and Radha Yadav above her as she allowed them to bide their time and get a . The gesture was met with plenty of positive reactions, with many praising Mandhana’s leadership skills.

West Zone made 356 in the end, taking a 111-run lead. Mandhana also bowled one over in the second innings.