Stylish left hander and opener of the Indian Women’s Cricket team, Smriti Mandhana has mesmerized everyone with her sublime cricket shots ever since she made her debut for the national side.
Smriti Mandhana – Daughter of a father who couldn’t fulfil his dreams
A former district-level cricketer wanted to fulfil his personal ambition of playing for India through one of his children because he couldn’t.
That dream became a reality and his daughter fulfilled his ambition.
Father Shriniwas Mandhana represented Sangli district and came close to being picked for Maharashtra cricket team.
But the left-handed Smriti was fulfilling a dream of her own too.
Smriti Mandhana was born on 18 July 1996 in Mumbai. When she was two, the family moved to Sangli in Maharashtra, where she completed her schooling. Both her father and brother Shravan, played cricket at the district-level for Sangli.
She was inspired to take up cricket after watching her brother play at the Maharashtra state Under-16s tournaments.
Domestic career of Smriti Mandhana
When she was nine Smriti Mandhana played for Maharashtra Under-15 team. By the time she was 11, she was part of the Maharashtra Under-19 team.
In October 2013 Smriti became the first Indian woman to achieve a double-hundred in a one-day game. Playing for Maharashtra against Gujarat, she scored an unbeaten 224 off 150 balls in the West Zone Under-19 Tournament.
In the 2016 Women’s Challenger Trophy, she emerged as the tournament’s top-scorer With 192 runs,and helped her team win the Trophy by making an unbeaten 62 in the final against India Blue.
International career of Smriti Mandhana
Test Debut :
Mandhana made a 50 on Test debut, playing a crucial hand in India’s historic Test win in England in 2014.
In the second ODI game of India’s tour of Australia in 2016 , Mandhana scored her maiden international hundred (102 off 109 balls).
Smriti Mandhana was the only Indian player to be named in the ICC Women’s Team of the Year 2016.
Smriti Mandhana at World Cup and WBBL
In September 2016, Smriti Mandhana was signed up for a one-year deal with Brisbane Heat for the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) but after playing few matches she was ruled out of the rest of the tournament due to bad knee injury.
She missed the World Cup Qualifier and the Quadrangular Series in South Africa due to injury. She began the 2017 World Cup with a 90 against England in the first of the group matches. Mandhana helped her team win by 35 runs, and was named the player of the match. She scored her second ODI hundred (106 not out) against West Indies.
Mandhana was part of the Indian team to reach the final of the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup where the team lost to England by nine runs.
In March 2018, she scored the fastest fifty against Australia in the women’s Tri-Nation Series , taking 30 balls to reach a half- century.
Smriti Mandhana has evolved as a player in recent times and has been the most consistent performer for the Indian team. With an eye on the future, India might look at Smriti Mandhana as a captain.
“Best International Cricketer – Women”: BCCI Awards 2017-18
Smriti Mandhana and her struggle: No obstacle too great…
“I used to train in the morning, then go to school, and then have nets in the evening,” she says. “Sometimes, if the teachers let me go early, I used to finish evening nets and then go home and watch TV.” remembers Smriti.
At 15 while moving out to Mumbai or Bangalore for training was not a possible option, Smriti got a concrete pitch built with her savings for her batting sessions.
All those sacrifices paid off when she earned India call-up in 2013 for a short limited-overs series against Bangladesh. A call-up to the World T20 meant she had to skip her Class XII board exams. Later a tour of England that year meant a she would have had to miss a year, and forego admissions into a hotel management course she wanted to enroll for.
In 2016 during a Women’s Big Bash League game playing for Brisbane Heat with whom she signed up a one-year deal , she turned to her right to field a ball, and her left boot got stuck in the turf as the rest of her body twisted. She crumpled to the ground, clutching her left knee in pain. Smriti had ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in the left knee. Her WBBL was over but question on her mind was – will I be fit in time for the World Cup?
A surgery followed, and five months of intense rehab, most of which were spent at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.
“The NCA was closed on weekends, so there would be no one there to bowl to her. So I travelled to the NCA from Sangli on weekends to help her train”, said Anant Tambwekar, her coach in Sangli.
“She wanted to get as much practice as possible in the short time she had.”
Mandhana’s name was announced in India’s World Cup squad, a vindication of the hard work she had put in to get fit in time for her first World Cup.
She started her 2017 World Cup journey with a bang – “The player of the match” for 90 against England in the first of the group matches. She scored her second ODI hundred (106 not out) against West Indies.
Lesser Known Facts about Smriti Mandhana:
- She idolises Matthew Hayden and Kumar Sangakkara.
- She played with bat gifted by Rahul Dravid when she scored unbeaten 224 in West Zone U-19 Cricket League against Gujarat.
- She wears the same number jersey (18) as Virat Kohli.
- She is brand ambassador for POWER brand of Bata.
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