Smriti Shriniwas Mandhana, born on July 18, 1996, has emerged as one of India’s brightest cricketing talents, making waves both in the national and international cricketing arenas. Representing the Indian women’s national team and the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Women’s Premier League (WPL), Mandhana’s journey is a testament to her remarkable skills and dedication to the sport.
Early Life and Cricketing Beginnings
Born into a Marwari family in Mumbai to Smita and Shrinivas Mandhana, Smriti’s cricketing journey began at a young age. Her father and brother, Shravan, both played cricket at the district level, inspiring her to take up the sport. At just nine years old, she was selected to play for Maharashtra’s Under-15 team, and by the age of eleven, she found herself in the Maharashtra Under-19s team.
Mandhana’s family played a crucial role in her cricketing development. Her father, Shrinivas, managed her cricket program, while her mother, Smita, took charge of her diet, clothing, and other organizational aspects. Her brother, Shravan, continued to be her practice partner, bowling to her in the nets.
Early Domestic Success
Smriti Mandhana’s cricketing prowess became evident in October 2013 when she achieved a remarkable feat. She became the first Indian woman to score a double-hundred in a one-day game. Representing Maharashtra against Gujarat in the West Zone Under-19 Tournament, she scored an unbeaten 224 runs off 150 balls at the Alembic Cricket Ground in Vadodara.
Her remarkable performances continued in domestic cricket. In the 2016 Women’s Challenger Trophy, Mandhana scored three consecutive half-centuries for India Red, helping her team secure victory in the final against India Blue. She emerged as the tournament’s top-scorer with 192 runs.
Venturing into International Leagues
In September 2016, Smriti Mandhana took a significant step in her career when she signed a one-year deal with Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL). She became one of the first two Indian players to be signed for the league, alongside Harmanpreet Kaur. Although her journey with Brisbane Heat was marred by an injury, she showcased her potential on the international stage.
In June 2018, she made history by signing with Western Storm for the Kia Super League, becoming the first Indian cricketer to play in the league. Later, she joined the Hobart Hurricanes’ squad for the 2018–19 Women’s Big Bash League season. Her cricketing journey also took her to England, where she was drafted by Southern Brave for the inaugural season of The Hundred.
A Record-Breaking Career
Smriti Mandhana’s international career took off in August 2014 when she made her Test debut against England at Wormsley Park. Her composed innings of 51 in the second innings, alongside Thirush Kamini, helped India secure victory in a memorable match.
In the ODI format, Mandhana achieved a significant milestone in 2016 by scoring her maiden international century against Australia. Her stellar performances earned her a place in the ICC Women’s Team of the Year for 2016.
Despite suffering an anterior cruciate ligament rupture during her time at the WBBL in 2017, Mandhana made a remarkable comeback for the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup. She played a pivotal role in India’s journey to the final, where they narrowly lost to England.
Mandhana’s incredible skills in the T20 format also became evident when she scored the fastest fifty for India in Women’s T20Is, taking just 24 balls against New Zealand in February 2019. She continued to excel, earning accolades as the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year and ICC Women’s ODI Player of the Year in 2018.
Captaincy and Milestones
In February 2019, Smriti Mandhana made history by becoming the youngest T20I captain for India. Her leadership skills and batting prowess added a new dimension to her cricketing journey.
Mandhana’s consistency and excellence were further recognized when she won the International Woman Cricketer of the Year award at the CEAT International Cricket Awards in May 2019. She continued to set records, becoming the third-fastest cricketer to score 2,000 runs in WODIs in November 2019.
Her Test cricket journey reached new heights when she scored her first century in Test cricket in August 2021. This achievement made her the first Indian female cricketer to score centuries in both ODIs and Tests in Australia.
As of 2022, Smriti Mandhana continues to be a pivotal figure in Indian women’s cricket. Her journey from a young cricket enthusiast in Sangli, Maharashtra, to becoming a global cricket sensation is an inspiring tale of passion, dedication, and talent. Mandhana’s contributions to the sport have garnered her numerous awards and accolades, and her fans eagerly await her every appearance on the cricket field. Her story serves as a testament to the immense potential and talent within Indian women’s cricket, and the future looks brighter than ever for this cricket prodigy.