Age is just another number they said, well, indeed very well said! She gave up science in school and a career in hospitality, but all that did not matter when the young Smriti Mandhana became an overnight sensation when she was just 18. A teenager then, Smriti Mandhana applied her trade against England during her debut test match and announced her arrival to the International Cricket Arena in absolute style. She smashed the English bowlers in their own backyard and scored an important half-century in alien conditions, which helped India secure a historic win.
Smriti Mandhana has been on a rise ever since, but it certainly wasn’t easy. Well, they never said it will be and they always said it would be worth it, and so it is! It is safe to say that along with the old horses like Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur and Jhulan Goswami, even Mandhana has been an inspiration for many young Indian girls to take up the beautiful game of cricket. She is also one of the most beautiful Indian Women Cricketer, and while that doesn’t matter between the 22 yards, it certainly adds a lot of value to her entire brand equity. Beauty with brains indeed!
Where did it all begin for Smriti though? How did she manage to become the Super-Woman she is? Well, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is also an expression used to substitute the phrase- ” There is no shortcut to success”, and Smriti’s story is no different. It was certainly way more difficult than others though, as she decided to tread on the path which hardly any young girl ever dared to, considering Cricket was such a male-dominated sport back in the days. It still is rather but to be fair, women’s cricket in India, especially since the 2017 World Cup has been on the rise, thanks to India’s splendid performance which helped them set a date with England in the final. While we will leave that debate for another blog, let’s have a look at the beautiful journey of the immensely talented Smriti Mandhana.
Smriti Mandhana: Early Life
Smriti Mandhana was born on the 18th of July 1996 in Mumbai. Her parents Smita and Shrinivas Mandhana along with her elder brother decided to move out of the city when she was a mere 2 years old, to Sangli in Madhavnagar, from where she completed her schooling.
Cricketing Family= Happy Family
Imagine almost everybody in your family plays cricket. How cool would that be? Well, that was almost the case in Smriti Mandhana’s life as other than her mom, everyone else played cricket. Both her dad and elder brother played for Sangli at the district level and as a result, even her mother was always well versed about the game. In fact, it was her father and brother who inspired her to take up the game seriously, and the duo would bowl to her day in and day out in order for Smriti to improve her game and sharpen her skills.
When Smriti Madhana Was Only 9 Years Old
Now this one might come as a bouncer to you all, but when Smriti Mandhana was just a baby, she used to play for Maharashtra Under 15 Team. Such things did not happen all the time, especially in those days when there were not many platforms for the young girls to showcase their talent and everyone knew there was a star in the making.
When Smriti Mandhana Was Just 11 Years Old
Another Bouncer! When the little girl was just 11, she was busy applying her trade for the Maharashtra Under -19 Team. Yes, you read that right. Some called her a ‘Freak’ while the rest of them addressed her as the ‘next Mithali Raj of India’, the only difference being she did not have the composure like Mithali, to read a book in the middle of a World Cup Game, as Smriti herself confessed, but she is certainly special in her very own way.
Fitness Level- Smriti Mandhana
While being fit is the most important thing in life for any individual, when it comes to athletes, the level of expectations are far beyond what a common man/woman can even think of achieving. A lot more than surface level initiatives are expected from them and rightly so. They are the ones who go out there and grill it out at times under the hot sun and at times when their hands are numb.
Fortunately for Smriti, she had a lot of support from her family and had a coach, a dietician, and a human bowling machine- Everything inhouse! Her mother took care of her diet and made sure that she ate exactly what an athlete should, which meant no burgers, no pizzas, and at such a young age when you love these things more than anything, Smriti had to sacrifice quite a bit. Having said that, like a smart person, she looked at the bigger picture – She wanted to play for India one day and was as focused as a Rahul Dravid would be while defending a delivery.
When Smriti Mandhana Created History
In August 2013, Mandhana sent a strong message to the selectors that she was ready for the big league as she became the first Indian Women to score a century In the One Day International Format. The left-handed batsman scored a whopping 224 of just 150 balls while representing Maharashtra against Gujarat in the West Zone Under 19 Tournament.
Smriti Mandhana: T20 Debut
This was big. Her dream of playing for India finally came true when she was got her chance against Bangladesh on the 5th of April 2013. She opened the batting for her Team and scored a quick-fire 39 in a game completely dominated by the bowlers. This also happened to be the highest score by any batsman in that particular game which spoke volumes of her abilities.
Smriti Mandhana: ODI Debut
Not surprisingly, she was also given a chance in the One Day Format just 5 days after her T20 debut on the 10th of April 2013. The left-handed batsman scored 25 of 35 deliveries during her first outing as far as the ODI format was concerned, but without any intention to defend her, she was also made to come out of her comfort zone as she batted at number 3.
Smriti Mandhana: Test Debut
Finally, it was time for Smriti to shed the colour and get into the whites. It was time to compete against one of the best sides as far as International Women’s Cricket was concerned, as India was all set to take on England in their own backyard. Many legendary Indian Cricketers have failed to do justice to their abilities in England be it, men or women. A few have taken at least a few series to get used to conditions which are completely alien to what it’s like back home in India, but Smriti was a special kid. She wasn’t the one to worry about the conditions or the opposition and made a huge impact as early as her first Test Match.
While the left-handed batsman from Sangli managed only 22 in the first innings, Smriti Mandhana played a gem of an innings the second time around, when it mattered the most. India was set a target of 182 runs which sounded easy but batting anywhere in the world in the 4th innings of a Test Match has never been easy irrespective. Mandhana on debut scored a crucial half-century which helped her team achieve the impossible and unexpected, on foreign soil. The reason we termed it as unexpected was that just until a few years ago, there was a lot of difference in quality among nations as far as Women’s Cricket was concerned. There was England, there was Australia, and then there was the rest of the world.
Smriti Mandhana: World Cup
Smriti by now was one of the most important members of the Indian Women’s Cricket Team. The only reason she still wasn’t considered as a senior, was that she was actually very young but on the flip side she had been playing cricket since a toddler, and had matured leaps and bounds over all these years. Then came the time for the all-important World Cup and India could not have asked for a better start as Smriti Madhana set the tone beautifully. While India was scheduled for a tough opening game against the home-side England, the left-handed opening batsman scored a whopping 90 of just 72 balls which helped her team topple a strong English side at home. Smriti Mandhana was now a household name and everyone was excited to see how she goes about her business.
To be fair, she faded away after the first few games though, maybe because she wasn’t used to all the limelight she got after her beast of an innings against England but as they say – ‘Form is temporary and class is Permanent’ and Mandhana certainly had ‘class’ written all over her.
Smriti Mandhana: Big Bash League
In September 2017, Mandhana made the entire country proud yet again as she became only the second Indian woman after Harmanpreet Kaur to be given a contract to play in the Big Bash League. She applied her trade for the Brisbane Heat but did not have a great initial season as she managed only 89 runs in 12 matches. Often we saw glimpses of her brilliance but the ‘Real Smriti Mandhana’ unfortunately and for a change, never stood up! A few of you might find that as a harsh comment but isn’t it always wise to call a spade a spade?
Smriti Mandhana: Kia Cricket League
The opening batsman from India recently created another record as she became the first-ever player from India to participate in the Kia Cricket League (KCL). Smriti signed up with the south-west England based Team: Western Storm, who were Title Holders in the year 2017. By now she had made it a habit of impressing everyone on debut and she did to fail to disappoint her fans in the Kia Cricket League either, by motoring away to a 20 ball 48 against the Diamonds.
Smriti Madhana: Joint Fastest Half Century In Women T20’s
On Sunday, the 29th of July 2018, Smriti Mandhana made everyone proud yet again. While applying her trade for Western Storm in a rain-curtailed game against the Loughborough, the left-handed batsman scored the joint fastest half-century by any women in the world! Her cracker of a knock included 5 boundaries and 4 huge sixes.
She achieved this feat in a mere 18 deliveries and while doing so, equalled the record of New Zealand’s Sophie Devine. Sophie had done the same against India in Bengaluru in the year 2015.
A Bit More About Smriti Mandhana
a. Smriti Mandhana’s favourite hobby is listening to music and she loves de-stressing herself by listening to some good beats before making the opposition bowlers dance to her tunes.
b. Her favourite cricketer just like many others is the great ‘Sir Sachin Tendulkar’ who as we all know, just like Smriti, also happens to be from Maharashtra.
c. Did you know?
1. Smriti Mandhana is the youngest Indian Woman to score a half-century in T20 cricket.
2. She is also the third youngest Indian Woman to score a half-century in One Day International Cricket.
3. No wait, it doesn’t end here. She is also the second youngest Indian Woman to score a half-century in Test Cricket.
Anjum Chopra, Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami have made us all proud and now is the time for a new force to take over. While we wish Smriti Mandahana all the luck, we hope that her scoreboard keeps ticking away constantly.