Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Smriti Mandhana is born - India's rising batting superstar
July 18, 1996 - Mandhana's best performance on the big stage came in the 2018 T20 World Cup where she was the third-highest scorer with 178 runs from 5 matches at an average of 35.60 and a strike rate of 125.35.
Out of the crop of the current women cricketers, India's Smriti Mandhana is among the most popular. In a country where the names of only Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami were known to even the most ardent of cricket fans a decade ago, Smriti Mandhana has become the face of a new generation of Indian women cricketers who command a lot of attention and admiration.
Alongside Indian T20 Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, Mandana and upcoming star Jemimah Rodrigues are the most popular members of the Indian team.
Mandhana's tryst with cricket began when her father used to take her brother for cricket practice every morning. She used to wake up at 5 a.m. to tag along and after her brother was done with the practice, she used to get just 10-15 balls to face. 10-15 balls gradually became 20-30 and it was not long before she stole the limelight from her brother.
Seeing her brother bat left-handed, she also started doing the same and it took only a few years for her talent to push her into the Indian team. She was selected in the Maharashtra under-15 squad at the age of just 9 and by the time she was 11, she had already made it to the under-19 squad.
Mandhana's name first popped up in the Indian media when she scored an unbeaten double century - a knock of 224 off just 150 deliveries - against Gujarat in the West zone under-19 ODI tournament. The runs had come off the bat which had been gifted by Rahul Dravid to her and she indeed made good use of it.
At 16, Mandhana made her ODI debut in April 2013 against Bangladesh in Ahmedabad. Just a year later, she played her first Test match and made her maiden Test half-century to see India to a historic Test win over England.
Mandhana's prowess against both pace and spin and her ability to clear the fence made her a coveted player across the women's T20 leagues as well. She has represented Hobart Hurricanes and Brisbane Heat in Australia's Women's Big Bash League apart from her appearance for Western Storm in the Women's Cricket Super League in the UK.
Having turned 24 today, Mandhana's numbers in ODI Cricket are close to the gold standard. She has already scored 2,025 ODI runs from 51 matches at an average of 43.08 and a strike rate of 84.41. This includes four centuries and 17 half-centuries. In T20 Internationals as well, she averages over 25 with a strike rate touching 120.
Mandhana has not been able to live up to the expectations in ICC events. She began the 2017 ODI World Cup, in which India finished as runners-up, on a great note, scoring 90 against England and 106 not out against West Indies but she finished the tournament with 235 runs from 9 matches at a pedestrian average of 29.00.
However, she showed her capability in the 2018 T20 World Cup where she was the third-highest scorer with 178 runs from 5 matches at an average of 35.60 and a strike rate of 125.35.
The more you see of Mandhana, you cannot help but feel that her best cricket is yet to come. At 24 years of age and the women's IPL in the making, Mandhana is all set to have the world at her feet over the coming five years or so.
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