Punam Raut earned our respect: Smriti Mandhana

Punam Raut, on 36, walked even when she wasn’t given out

Smriti Mandhana took off her helmet, raised her bat, tossed her bangs back with a shake of her head, and allowed herself a shy smile.

She said at a virtual press conference at Carrara, where bad weather brought an early close for the second successive day in the one-off Day/Night Test, that she had been visualising the moment – a celebration of her hundred — during the 14-day quarantine in Australia.

“But that celebration (in the visualisation) was different to what I did today,” she said, smiling. “I don’t know why I become shy when it actually happens.”

Her maiden Test hundred earned praise from many, including Sachin Tendulkar. But there was another Indian batter who caught as much attention.

Punam Raut’s decision to walk when the umpire did not give her out – after her faint edge was taken behind the stumps – rightly won her many admirers, but there was also some criticism that her act, though done in the spirit of the game, could cost her team.

Smriti said Punam earned the respect of her teammates. “Our first reaction was, ‘Why did you do that?’ but then that is something we all respect her for,” said the left-handed stylist. “I don’t know how many people – men or women – in cricket would walk at the moment, if there is no DRS.”

About the lucky break in her innings – she was caught off a no-ball – she admitted she was devastated after giving a catch off a full-toss. “Then that no-ball (call) came out of the (blue).”

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