Smriti Mandhana: The Rising Star of Indian Women’s Cricket

Smriti Mandhana is undoubtedly one of the brightest stars of Indian women’s cricket and has a long and illustrious career ahead of her. She is a true inspiration for millions of cricket fans and a pride of the nation.

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Smriti Mandhana

Smriti Mandhana is not just a cricketer, she is a phenomenon. From being a little girl who followed her brother to cricket practice, to becoming one of the most prolific batters in the world and the captain of the Indian women’s cricket team, her journey has been nothing short of inspirational.

In this article, we will take a look at how Smriti Mandhana rose to fame, what are some of her remarkable achievements, and what are her future goals.

How it all began for Smriti Mandhana

Smriti Mandhana was born in Mumbai on July 18, 1996, but when she was two years old, her family moved to the Madhavnagar suburbs of Sangli, Maharashtra, where she spent her formative years.

Her father Shrinivas was a chemical distributor by profession while mother Smita was a housewife.

Cricket was always a part of the Mandhana household with her father having played at district level. Her brother Shravan also played cricket and went on to represent the Maharashtra U-19 team before stepping away from the game and eventually becoming a banker.

Though Shravan didn’t continue with cricket, his presence in Smriti Mandhana’s life was hugely influential to her becoming a cricketer. It was during her trips to the practice grounds with her brother, four years older than her, that the passion for cricket sparked in a young Smriti.

The sparks slowly turned into dreams once her brother started doing well at junior levels and his name used to appear in local newspapers. Smriti used to cut out the clippings for her scrapbook.

“One day, I thought I should also be scoring runs like this,” Smriti Mandhana told ESPNCricinfo. “My father never said no to me, so whenever my brother went for a net session, he used to lob balls at me gently.”

Interestingly both Shravan and Smriti are right-handed but bat left-handed.

“Because my father had a fascination for left-handed batsmen, my brother and I played left-handed. So that is how it started,” Smriti explained.

Soon, Smriti Mandhana started training under coach Anant Tambwekar, a junior state trainer at Sangli.

By the age of nine, Smriti Mandhana had broken into the U-15 Maharashtra side and after dominating senior opponents, was fast-tracked into the U-19 state team at the mere age of 11.

At the age of 15, Smriti Mandhana found herself at the crossroads with her board examinations coming up. She wanted to study science but her mother dissuaded her because she knew that balancing cricket and studies would become tough.

Mandhana went on to pick commerce and would later go on to complete her bachelor’s degree from the Chintaman Rao College of Commerce in Sangli. It also helped her dedicate more time to cricket.

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Making a mark on the international stage

Smriti Mandhana made her international debut for India in a T20 match against Bangladesh women at Vadodara on April 5, 2013. She was just 16 at the time.

On her debut, Smriti Mandhana was India’s highest scorer (39 off 36) and helped the team win by 10 runs and wrap up the bilateral series 3-0.

Five days later, on April 10, Smriti Mandhana made her One Day International (ODI) debut against Bangladesh in Ahmedabad. Coming in at Number 3, the youngster played a handy innings of 25 from 35 balls.

Since then, Smriti Mandhana has established herself as one of the most consistent and reliable batters in the Indian women’s cricket team. She has played 59 ODIs and 83 T20Is, scoring 2,309 and 1,886 runs respectively, with four centuries and 19 half-centuries across formats.

She has also been a part of the Indian team that reached the finals of the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup and the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup, where she played some crucial knocks.

In 2018, Smriti Mandhana became the first Indian woman to score a century in Australia, when she smashed 102 off 109 balls in an ODI at Canberra. She also scored a brilliant 106 off 141 balls in a Test match at Sydney in 2014, becoming the first Indian woman to score a Test century in Australia.

Smriti Mandhana has also played in various T20 leagues around the world, such as the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia, the Kia Super League in England, and the Women’s T20 Challenge in India. She has impressed with her strokeplay and flair, earning praise from fans and experts alike.

In 2019, Smriti Mandhana became the youngest captain of the Indian cricket team – men’s or women’s – when she led the side in a T20I series against England at the age of 22. She also became the second cricketer after Australia’s Ellyse Perry to win the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year award (Rachael Heyhoe Flint Award) twice, in 2018 and 2019.

Smriti Mandhana made history by becoming the most expensive player in the first edition of the Women’s Premier League (WPL), the female counterpart of the popular men’s Indian Premier League (IPL). She was bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) for a whopping INR 3.4 crores in the WPL 2023 auction.

Smriti Mandhana
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She continued her stellar form in the women’s T20 World Cup 2023 in South Africa, where she scored a career-best 87 runs against Ireland and helped India win the match.

Smriti Mandhana also played a key role in India’s gold medal triumph at the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou, where she was the vice-captain of the team

Setting new benchmarks

Smriti Mandhana is not one to rest on her laurels. She is always looking to improve her game and set new benchmarks for herself and others.

She holds several coveted records to her name, such as:

  • Joint-fastest T20 50 in women’s cricket with New Zealand’s Sophie Devine (18 balls).
  • Fastest T20I 50 by an Indian woman (23 balls).
  • Third Indian woman to score 2,000 runs in T20I cricket.
  • Sixth Indian woman to score 2,000 runs in ODI cricket.
  • First cricketer to score 10 consecutive 50-plus scores while chasing in ODI cricket.
  • First Indian woman to score a double century in 50-over cricket (Maharashtra vs Gujarat)

Smriti Mandhana is also a role model for many young girls who aspire to play cricket. She is known for her humble and down-to-earth personality, her dedication and hard work, and her passion and love for the game.

She is also an ambassador for various social causes, such as promoting education, health, and hygiene among underprivileged children, and raising awareness about breast cancer.

Smriti Mandhana has also been nominated for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the highest sporting honour in India, for her outstanding achievements in cricket.

Looking ahead

Smriti Mandhana has a lot to look forward to in the coming years. She is keen to play more Test cricket, which she considers as the ultimate challenge. She is also eager to explore new avenues and opportunities in cricket, such as coaching, mentoring, and commentary.

Smriti Mandhana is undoubtedly one of the brightest stars of Indian women’s cricket and has a long and illustrious career ahead of her. She is a true inspiration for millions of cricket fans and a pride of the nation.

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