August 08, 2022

Smriti Mandhana – The backfoot ballerina of Indian cricket

By Anjishnu Roy


From a bespectacled teenager obsessed with science in school to following the sport that has always been a part of the household and subsequently becoming one of the best batters of her generation, Smriti Mandhana has had a long and fascinating journey to the top of cricket.

Hailed as the heir-apparent to the legendary Mithali Raj when she first burst onto the scene, Mandhana has been living up to the billing.

The former world no. 1 ODI batter, currently ranked number 3 in ICC’s T20I batting rankings, was inspired to pursue cricket as a career after her passion was sparked in her trips with her brother Shravan to the cricket grounds and practice nets. Cricket is a crucial part of the Mumbai-based Mandhana household. Her brother eventually went on to play district cricket before stepping away to pursue a career in banking.

Life had other plans for the younger Madhana sibling. She was also inspired to bat left-handed despite being a right-hander because of her father’s propensity for it. Juggling two different lives became an insurmountable challenge as it was difficult to balance sports and studies. At 15, after her mother’s advice, she left science and took up commerce to accommodate cricket into her life and give it as much time as possible.

The sacrifices and efforts paid off as she made her debut for Team India in April 2013 at 16 against Bangladesh. With a knock of 39 off 36, the bespectacled teenager from Mumbai was the highest scorer for India on her T20I debut and made another 25 off 35 deliveries on her ODI debut five days later.

Mandhana garnered the attention of the entire nation in October of that year, when she became the first Indian woman to score a double century in a Day match, setting the record while playing for Maharashtra against Gujarat.

Curiously enough, the bat she had used for all three knocks was a unique one gifted to her brother by Rahul Dravid. It’s not in the least bit surprising then that Mandhana shares the same elegant sense of timing with the willow as the Wall of Indian cricket. 

The notion of left-handed batters being more aesthetically pleasing has always been prevalent in the sport of cricket. The backfoot ballerina of Indian cricket embodies those ideals to the core. She can read the bowler’s plans beforehand, sing a little jingle in her mind, observe the field positions, and yet have more than enough milliseconds to get ready for the next delivery with the cleanest stroke.

In the purest format of the sport, Mandhana’s immaculate technique stands out even more. Having played four Test matches, she averages 46.42 and has a century and two fifties. Mandhana also shared a match-winning partnership with Thirush Kamini on her Test debut against England in 2014.

Ever since she made her first appearance in the international arena, Smriti Mandhana established herself as the pillar of the batting unit alongside Harmanpreet Kaur and the now-retired Mithali Raj. Her first century in international cricket arrived against a formidable Australian side in an ODI match in 2016. While her 2016 was incredible, the following year had more in store for the opening batter.

In 2017, she raced against time to recover from an ACL rupture to make it to the Indian squad for the 2017 ICC World Cup. In the end, she succeeded. And so did the team as she finished the third highest scorer for India in the competition behind Mithali and Harmanpreet. The Women in Blue were unfortunate to finish runners-up to England in the final on English soil.

Disappointment continued as India got knocked out of the semi-final of the 2018 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup against England. Despite Harmanpreet and Mandhana finishing as the second and third-highest scorers respectively India couldn’t find an extra gear to switch to during the knockout match.

India continued to rack up wins in limited overs cricket over the next few years. Having a left-handed opener at the helm of the batting order also allowed the side to introduce and nurture young talents like Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Richa Ghosh, and Yastika Bhatia among others.

The Women in Blue, once again, reached the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup in 2020, this time in the 20-over format. However, destiny wasn’t kind this time around either. The opening batter had a dismal tournament and managed just 49 runs at an average of 12.25. While India did well to get to the final, the agony and pain of falling one step short haunted the side once again as Australia won the trophy grandly on home soil and in front of a record audience.

As the world emerged out of the bubble of uncertainty posed by the pandemic and frequent lockdowns, cricket became a welcome distraction. Smriti was the star performer for the side in 2021 and was even felicitated with the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year, becoming only the second individual after Australia’s Ellyse Perry to win it twice.

The 26-year-old is part of an exclusive club in T20I cricket as only other two other Indian women - Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur - have collected more than 2000 runs in the shortest format of the sport. She is only the second Indian opener after Rohit Sharma hit 2000 runs.

Mandhana is also the fastest Indian woman and second fastest Indian to reach the landmark of 2000 runs in ODI cricket, accomplishing it in just 51 innings. Only Shikhar Dhawan got to the milestone faster than her in 48 innings.

She also is the youngest to captain an Indian T20I side, for both men and women, after she led in the absence of injured skipper Harmanpreet Kaur. At 22 years and 229 days, Smriti Mandhana led the Indian team for the first time against England in Guwahati.

The backfoot ballerina has been around the summit of Indian cricket for so long. Given how she bats with the poise of a veteran, it’s easy to forget she’s still in her mid-20s. It won’t be too wrong to suggest that by the time she retires, plenty of records will tumble at the swing of her willow.

The number 18 jersey has been kind to Indian cricket following the magnificent and rich legacy of the famous ‘10’. Smriti Mandhana is carrying the same candle, and with her around, girls all over the country have an idol to look up to, in the same way, Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami were to Smriti’s generation.

Previous Post

Thomas Tuchel's biggest bet on Raheem Sterling for Chelsea transformation

Next Post

Dutch League Match Report- Fortuna Sittard vs AFC Ajax

Related Articles

  • July 13, 2022

    Kiran Prabhu Navgire- The Nagaland run machine

  • July 19, 2022

    India vs Leicestershire – a well-utilized warm-up game for India but far from match ready.

  • July 21, 2022

    India's rising youth star- Umran Malik

  • August 04, 2022

    How will Bangladesh fare in this year’s Asia Cup?

  • August 05, 2022

    India’s rising U-19 Captain – Yash Dhull

  • August 08, 2022

    Smriti Mandhana – The backfoot ballerina of Indian cricket

  • August 10, 2022

    Ashleigh Gardner- the buttress of the Australian cricket team

  • August 10, 2022

    Indian women's team clinches silver at CWG 2022 with their best performances

  • August 11, 2022

    Spinners Rip Through The Windies As India Ends The Series With A 4-1 Win

  • August 12, 2022

    Should Pakistan change squad ahead of Asia Cup?

  • August 12, 2022

    Is the Indian team better off without KL Rahul?

  • August 17, 2022

    India’s all-rounders' crucial role in winning the Asia Cup

  • August 18, 2022

    Top 3 fast bowlers for India ahead of Asia Cup 2022

  • August 19, 2022

    Shoaib Akhtar – A life and career spent on the highway to the danger zone

  • August 22, 2022

    The Indian women's cricket team deserve attention and acclaim after the Commonwealth Games

  • August 23, 2022

    Top 3 most crucial players for Pakistan in Asia Cup 2022

  • August 24, 2022

    Jhulan Goswami retires from International Cricket

  • August 26, 2022

    Shubman Gill owns the show as India record whitewash against Zimbabwe

  • August 26, 2022

    Sanju Samson – India’s most elegant batsmen with a burden of perception

  • August 26, 2022

    How can Sri Lanka prepare ahead for the Asia Cup 2022

  • August 26, 2022

    Shikhar Dhawan or KL Rahul: The better fit for captaincy

  • August 27, 2022

    Harmanpreet Kaur: Leading the new generation of Indian Women’s cricket

  • August 27, 2022

    How will Shaheen Afridi's ruling out from the Asia Cup impact Pakistan

  • August 29, 2022

    Afghanistan starts strong in the first match of DP Asia Cup 2022

  • August 30, 2022

    DP Asia Cup 2022 India vs Pakistan: Pandya finishes off in style for a thrilling win

  • August 30, 2022

    Dutch League Match Report- Excelsior vs PSV

  • August 30, 2022

    Cathryn Lorraine Fitzpatrick: A Fast Bowler Who Still Has No Equal

  • September 01, 2022

    India under Virat Kohli in Test Cricket

  • September 01, 2022

    DP Asia Cup 2022 Bangladesh vs Afghanistan: Afghanistan hold off Bangladesh in tense Asia Cup encounter

  • September 02, 2022

    DP Asia Cup 2022 Review- India vs Hong Kong

  • September 02, 2022

    DP Asia Cup 2022 Review- Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh: Sri Lanka sends Bangladesh out of Asia Cup in thriller

  • September 05, 2022

    James Anderson: First Cricketer in Test History to reach incredible feat; leaves behind Tendulkar, Ponting

  • September 05, 2022

    DP Asia Cup 2022 Review- Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan: Sri Lanka beat Afghanistan by 4 wickets

  • September 07, 2022

    DP Asia Cup 2022 Review- India vs Pakistan

  • September 08, 2022

    Shubman Gill: The youngster with the hallmarks of a future India batting mainstay

  • September 08, 2022

    DP Asia Cup 2022 Review- India vs Sri Lanka: SL beat India by 6 wickets, makes way to the final match

  • September 09, 2022

    DP Asia Cup 2022 Review- Pakistan vs Afghanistan: Pak joins SL for the final match of the Asia Cup

  • September 12, 2022

    DP World Asia Cup 2022- Review – India vs Afghanistan

  • September 13, 2022

    Sri Lanka wins DP Asia Cup 2022 after beating Pakistan by 23 runs

  • September 16, 2022

    DP Asia Cup 2022: How Sri Lanka defied the odds of becoming the champions and clinched the title

  • September 19, 2022

    Bumrah, Pant, and Ashwin secure a place in the T20 World Cup squad

  • September 19, 2022

    Top 3 Performances in DP Asia Cup 2022

  • September 20, 2022

    Australia Captain announces ODI retirement, will not play next year’s World Cup


Post a comment