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Smriti Mandhana: Heartthrob of Indian Women’s Cricket Team

A stylish batter donning the number 18 with sublime cricketing shots. No, not Virat Kohli. We are writing about Smriti Mandhana– the smart left-handed opener of the Indian Women’s Cricket team.

Donning black glasses, a focused Mandhana, walked on for the Women in Blue for the very first time as a 16-year-old while her friends were sitting in classrooms contemplating on their future. The hot-handed teenager who was never interested in Science or a probable career in hospitality.

But, all she wanted to do was take the bat and hit the ball out of the park. Smriti has shown an undying passion for cricket since her debut as a teenager. It has made her only the second Indian cricketer to feature in a foreign T20 league; score a World Cup century and become one of the few cricketers to score a double ton in a List A-game. 

So let’s go and read her story:

Details
Full Name
Smriti Shriniwas Mandhana
Age
23
Sport Category
Cricket
Date of Birth
18 July 1996
Hometown
Sangli, Maharashtra
Height
5ft 4 in (1.63 m)
Batting Style
Left-handed
Bowling Style
Right-arm medium
Teams Played for
Indian Women Cricket Team, Brisbane Heat Women, India Green Women, Maharashtra Women, Trailblazers, Western Storm

Smriti Mandhana Biography

Early Days

SM Biography
Credits: DNA India

She was born on 18th July in the city of dreams to Smita and Srinivas Mandhana. Her father, a former district player, turned chemical distributor at a textile company, longed to see his incomplete dream through his children Shravan and Smriti. When she was two-years-old, her family moved to Sangli.

It was Smriti’s brother who started playing first. Smriti would accompany her father to watch him play at the U 16s. While the brother scored runs and basked in local paper glory, the sister would cut and collect the clippings; thinking: “One day, I thought I should also be scoring runs like this”

Her supportive father never said no to her. Whenever his brother went to the nets, Srinivas used to lob the balls gently. However, Smriti hated the fact that her father used to throw the ball lightly. Soon her father started to bowl to her from 15 yards and noticed how good she hit the ball. 

I didn’t even know what a cover drive or square cut was. I am a right-hander otherwise, but because my father had a fascination for left-hand batsmen, my brother and I played left-handed. So that is how it started,” Smriti narrates today.

Also Read | The Inspiring Tale of Jhulan Goswami

Smriti Mandhana Career 

At 9, Mandhana was picked in the Maharashtra U 15 squad. However, she was boosted with confidence as bowlers older than her used to lineup to bowl to her. Her unfazed confidence convinced her father that she had a future in the sport. 

However, long work hours meant he could not personally look after her training. And with sending her to either Mumbai and Bangalore, not an option, Smriti used her savings to build a concrete pitch where she trained under the eyes of junior state coach Anant Tambwekar. 

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.

Domestic career

By the time she turned 11, she was already a part of the Maharashtra Under-19 team. However, Smriti did not get a chance to start in the XI for the first two years. As she neared 15, she had a huge decision to make with the Class X boards fast approaching.

While Smriti wanted to pursue Science, her mother put her foot down, knowing she could not balance both studies and cricket. A thankful Smriti could turn her complete focus on cricket, and her performances started to speak.

She scored three centuries and one unbeaten double century against Gujrat U 19 at Vadodara in the interstate U 19 one day competition. Her 224 in 150 balls made her the first Indian women with a double-hundred in a first-class game. 

Good scores continued in two following U19, limited over tournaments, and within no time, Smriti was called up for the Challenger Trophy. In the 2016 Women’s Challenger Trophy, she became the tournament’s top-scorer, scoring 192 runs, and helping her team to win the Trophy by clinching 62* in the final against India Blue.

T20 Career

Many senior players were rested in the limited over home series against Bangladesh after a disappointing world cup campaign. And Smriti’s sacrifices and her performances led to her first India call-up in 2013. She made her debut along with Sushma Verma and Poonam Yadav.

 Incidentally, her debut match was being played in the same ground in which she had hit her double hundred. Opening the innings with Mona Meshram, Smriti scored 39 runs in 36 balls, giving India a decent start. Indian women went to win the match and clean sweep the visitors. 

On 30th November 2014, Smriti scored her first international T20I half-century against South Africa in Bangalore. Her consistent performances meant she made her first Women’s T20 World Championship appearance at just at 18 years old. 

In March 2018, she scored the fastest fifty against Australia in the women’s Tri-Nation Series, taking just 30 balls to reach a half-century.

T20 Women World Championships

T20 WC 2014/16

While her friends from college were giving their XII board exams, Smriti was preparing herself to open the innings for the Women in Blue at the biggest stage in Bangladesh. However, Mandhana could not deliver her best. She finished the tournament with a mere total of 36 runs as India crashed out in the group stage. 

The following World Championships, Smriti’s performances disappointed as Indian women failed to move out of the group stage. In 2018, Smriti was her best run in T20Is, scoring 622 runs in 23 innings with an average of 28.27. She scored five half-centuries and two hundred in 2018. 

T20 WC 2018

Going with her best form into the 2018 Women’s World T20 Championships, West Indies, Smriti Mandhana revealed her best T20 self. Mandhana opened with 26 against Pakistan and followed it up with a 33 against Ireland. Mandhana then played an explosive Woman of the Match innings of 83 against Australia as India cruised to the semis,

While the Mithali Raj-Ramesh Powar controversy went on one hand, Smriti opened the innings with 34. However, post her departure, the middle order fell and broke down to English women for 112. England chased it down quickly in 17 overs and knocked India out of the World T20 Championships.

ODI 

ODI debut

Smriti made her ODI debut, five days after her T20I debut. Smriti opened her ODI account with a 25 off 35 balls against Bangladesh in Ahmedabad. Mandhana scored her first half-century in her fourth ODI match against Sri Lanka at Vishakapatnam.

In the second ODI game of India’s tour of Australia in 2016, Mandhana went on to score her maiden international hundred (102 runs off 109 balls). During the Women’s World Cup match between the West Indies and Indian women, the stylish left-hander scored a 108-ball 106 to score her first century in a world cup game.

Her contribution helped the Women in Blue to a comfortable victory. Today Smriti is one of the most crucial members of the Indian team. She has over 2,000 runs in just 51 games at an average of 43.08. Mandhana has 17 half-centuries and 4 ODI centuries. Incidentally, all her four centuries have come away from India, indicating how good a player she is.

Test

smriti mandhana kreedon
Smriti Mandhana at just 18 years and 29 days made her debut in Indian Women Test Team.

She was 18 years and 29 days when she made her test debut in 2014. While she was touring England, her friends were sitting in classes at the Chintaman College in her hometown. After a decent score 22 in the first innings, Smriti went on to score 50 in the second innings of her test debut. 

That innings played a crucial hand in India’s historic Test win in England in 2014; considering at least eight players made their test debut. Indian women were playing a Test match after a gap of eight years, and it was only their second ever triumph over England.

“For a teenager playing in her first match to score 22 (in the first innings) and a fifty is remarkable,” her brother Shravan said after the match. Personally for Smriti, the tour changed things. “Whatever little doubts I had, vanished after the England tour,” she says.

“That tour changed me as a cricketer. To score a fifty and win the Test, which was our first win in eight years, was extremely special. After that, we started getting more matches. So now, I’m thankful that my mother prevented me from choosing Science in school. I wouldn’t have been able to manage, no way!”

Women’s Big Bash League

Brisbane heat

In September 2016, Smriti Mandhana signed a one-year deal with the Brisbane Heat for the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL). In her first season with the Brisbane Heat, Mandhana scored 89 runs in 10 innings. Not the same Mandhana playing in India right! 

The reason behind that was Mandhana used to come down the order at number 5 or number 6 instead of opening. Mandhana returned to the Women’s BBL in the 2018-19 season with the Hobart Hurricanes. 

Hobart hurricanes

Playing higher in the order is Smriti’s natural position, and the Hurricanes benefited with it. Smriti scored 318 runs in 13 matches at an average of 24.46 and a strike rate of 144.54. She finished as the second-highest run-scorer for the Hurricanes.

Injury at WBBL

smriti mandhana kreedon
An injured Smriti during WBBL.

During a Women’s Big Bash League game, 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 the question on her mind was – will I be fit in time for the World Cup? A surgery followed, and five months of intense rehab, which she mostly 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, an explanation of the hard work she had put in to get fit in time for her first World Cup.

Also Read | 10 Best Women Cricketer

Smriti Mandhana Stats

Format M Inn NO Runs HS
Test

2014

2 3 0 81 51
ODI

2013–

51 51 4 2025 135
T20I

2013–

66 64 5 1451 86

 

Smriti Mandhana at World Cup

2017 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.

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 the team’s captain.

Smriti Mandhana 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.

Smriti Mandhana Family 

Smriti Mandhana was born to Smita and Srinivas Mandhana. Two years after her birth, the family shifted to Sangali, for which both her father and brother Sharavan played cricket.  After a brief period of district cricket, her father got a job as a chemical distributor at a textile company. 

However, he longed to see his incomplete dream through his children. It was Shravan who started to play cricket first. Inspired by her brothers’ performances at the state U 16 tournaments, Smriti also picked up the bat at the age of six. Shravan made it till the Maharashtra U19s before opting academics. 

While now he is employed in a private bank, Shravan played a vital role in Smriti’s early career. He inspired her to take up cricket. Furthermore, it was her elder brother’s gift bat that brought good luck and fortune during Smriti’s double hundred. Shravan, while playing for the U 19s, approached Rahul Dravid and told him about Smriti’s passion. A humble Dravid signed his training bat and sent it to Smriti. 

“I have been scoring very well since the time I have started playing with Dravid sir’s bat. My brother met Dravid during his visit to Bangalore last year and told him about my passion for cricket,” she said after her record-breaking innings. Dravid gifted his practice bat to me, and since then I have been playing with it,” Smriti adds.

“It has been a wonderful spell since then as I made by ODI and T20 debut this year with the same bat,” she says. Smriti’s father never said no to her while encouraging her. He was the first to notice Smriti’s talent when he started to her from bowling from 15 yards. 

Smriti’s mother also played a crucial role. When Smriti wanted to pick Science, Smita made her understand she would not be able to balance both cricket and studies. Mandhana went on to study commerce and soon graduated BCom from Chintaman Rao College of commerce in Sangli. Today, Smita is in charge of Smriti’s diet, clothing and other organisational aspects. 

Smriti Mandhana awards

  • Sportswoman of the Year (Cricket) at the Sportstar ACES Awards 2020
  • 2019 ICC Women’s ODI Team of the Year 
  • 2019 ICC Women’s T20I Team of the Year
  • 2018 Women’s Cricketer of the Year
  • 2018 Women’s ODI Player of the Year
  • Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Award, 2018
  • ICC Women’s Team of the Year 2016
  • Ceat International Cricket’s International Woman Cricketer of the Year award.
  • Navbharat Times Awards, 2019
  • Arjuna Award for Cricket, 2018

Smriti Mandhana unknown facts

  • She idolises Matthew Hayden and Kumar Sangakkara.
  • Smriti played with a bat gifted by Rahul Dravid when she scored unbeaten 224 in West Zone U-19 Cricket League against Gujarat.
  • She wears the same number of jersey (18) as Virat Kohli.
  • Smriti is the brand ambassador for the POWER brand of Bata.
  • She is a big fan of fellow cricketer Jhulan Goswami and looks up to her as a role model.
  • Smriti was named in the 2019 Forbes Top 30 Under 30 for her exceptional performance.
  • She has also played for the Brisbane Heat and Hobart Hurricanes in the Women’s Big Bash League, Australia. 
  • Smriti also has played in the Women’s Super League for the Western Storm
  • She started 2019 being the top-ranked batswoman in ICC’s rankings.
  • It was Smriti’s brother who inspired her to take up cricket at the age of 6. That turned
  • She was the only Indian batsman to be named in the ICC Women’s team of the year.
  • Her first ODI century was against Australia in Hobart where she knocked a punch of 102 runs.
  • Mandhana was the first Indian woman to score a double hundred in a one-day game, playing for Maharashtra against Gujarat in October 2013.
  • She is the 2nd Indian cricketer to sign a 1-year deal with the Brisbane Heat for the Women’s Big Bash League, following Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur.

Smriti Mandhana Social Media

After batting for 5 hours wondering when will I get to bat next ???.. Thanks for the trendy helmet Red Bull 😉

Posted by Smriti Mandhana on Monday, 17 June 2019

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