India bleeds blue! Belonging to the nation recognised as the motherland of cricket legends like Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni, having a career as a cricketer is a common childhood dream. Similar to this were the aspirations of Smriti Mandhana, the opening batswoman of the Indian Women’s National Cricket Team. With an innocent face and charming smile, Smriti hits the ball beyond stadiums, leaving no heads and un-turned towards her! So, hop on your gloves and pads as we go on to cite Smriti’s journey from playing Under-15 for Maharashtra to being honoured with an Arjuna Award, without any drinks break!
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Preps Before the Showdown
Smriti Shriniwas Mandhana was born on July 18 1996, in the Sangli district of Maharashtra. Her older brother became her first inspiration as he used to play several Under-16 tournaments for Maharashtra. At the age of 9, she also got selected for Maharashtra Under 15 team, and in no time, at 11, she was an important part of the Maharashtra Under 19 team.
Smriti Mandhana’s family has been her constant support since the springing days of her career. Her father used to manage her tournaments’ schedule around her studies, and her mother was in charge of her diet as per her nutritional requirements. From an early age, Smriti was always keen on batting. Hence, her brother Shravan used to bowl her in the nets.
Having a fair dose of practice, what brought her to the limelight was her jaw-dropping double-hundred in a one-day game. The Alembic Cricket Ground in Vadodara records the glimpse of her unbeaten 224 runs off just 150 balls during the West Zone Under-19. Thus, Smriti holds the record of being the first Indian woman to score a double hundred in one day cricket.
“In December 2018, the ICC awarded Smriti with the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Award for the best female cricketer of the year and she was also named the ODI Player of the year.”
The Rise to Opening Batswoman
Her magnificent performance at various zonal and state level matches finally paved her way to the national Indian cricket team. She made her debut in one-day internationals in 2013 in a match against Bangladesh. In August 2014, during her debut in the test match against England at Wormsley Park, she contributed to the team’s victory by scoring 22 and 51 runs in the first and second innings. Smriti Mandhana brought home the BCCI’s MA Chidambaram trophy for the Best Women Cricketer for the year 2013-14.
With every passing national and international tournament, Smriti Mandhana began to solidify her hold over the game. During her second ODI of India vs Australia in 2016 at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart, she made her first international hundred but unfortunately, the team was on the losing side. Further in the year 2017, Smriti Mandhana kick-started the World Cup innings against England in Derby by scoring 90 runs in the first matches. Her arduous contribution in the win helped her fetch the player’s title in the series.
Want to experience a day in the life of Smriti Mandhana? Check out this video:
Mandhana was in her best form and was constantly hitting big sixes in her career. The nation was in awe of her talent but what made her the talk of the town was her one-year deal with Brisbane Heat for the Women’s Big Bash League as she was the only Indian cricketer to be selected. From here onwards, there was no coming back for Smriti Mandhana.
“In 2020, she represented India at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup”
The year 2018 added more glory to her career. In June 2018, she was signed for Kia super league defending champions Western Storm and became the first Indian to perform in this League. In March 2018, she broke her own record by completing the fastest 50 for India in a Women’s Twenty20 International in just 25 balls in the opening against England. In July 2019, the magnificent lady and an outstanding Batswoman were bestowed with the Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister’s Arjuna Award- Kiren Rijeju. Counted amongst India’s one of the best cricket players, Smriti Mandhana continues to add more feathers to her hat and strives to be the right source of inspiration for Gen Z.
Astounded by the glorious career of Smriti Mandhana at 24, one must praise the hard work she puts in to beat the best. Stay tuned with Leverage Edu as we are celebrating empowered women!