Mumbai: Smriti Mandhana, one of India’s top batters, is not someone who is new to the T20 cricket circuit. Having played in T20 leagues in England (with Western Storm) and Australia (with Brisbane Heat) before, the 22-year-old recently led her team, Trailblazers, in the Women’s T20 Challenge 2019.
She has already been a role model to youngsters like Jemimah Rodrigues, who has played with her for India and against her in the recently-concluded T20 tournament.
Despite falling short of making the final of Women’s T20 Challenge, Mandhana caught the eyes of cricket fans and pundits alike, with a knock of 90 from just 67 balls in the tournament opener against the eventual champions Supernovas.
Mandhana bagged the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year at the Ceat Cricket Awards held here on Monday.
Firstpost caught up with her on the sidelines of the event where she spoke on her experience, upcoming talents like Jemimah Rodrigues, and more.
On her experience in the Women’s T20 Challenge 2019:
“It was a really fun experience to be a part of the Women’s T20 Challenge and this is going to definitely help a lot of youngsters coming in to perform at this level and be prepared for playing for India, and to learn from the overseas and the best players in the world. So, it is a very good initiative and the way people turned up in Jaipur. So all those things are going to make women’s cricket one step forward.”
On the ways in which BCCI can improve women’s cricket in India:
“BCCI is taking proper steps and measures as to how we can promote women’s cricket in India. So, I will leave it to them to think about how to improve and as a team, I think there are a lot of aspects we can improve on, especially in the T20 format. So, we will be working on that in the next few months before the next T20 World Cup. “
On Jemimah Rodrigues and other upcoming stars:
Jemi has been playing well, even in the Indian circuit for a year now. With Jemimah, there is Shafali Verma. Radha also came in. So, with all these youngsters performing in front of some 8000-10000 people at such a big stage against all the best players in the world is a very big positive for us, because we will have bench strength at the end of WIPL. So, that is a big bonus for women’s cricket in India.
On playing T20 leagues across the world and how it helps:
“Definitely because as I said under lights, crowd pressure, all the big match pressure. They will be prepared when they get to the World Cup because generally our bilateral series don’t have that much of pressure but the pressure is always there in the World Cup.
They will like, say, Radha, when she went into last five balls, eight runs to win. So, when the same situation comes in World Cup, she will know what to do and how to do because she has already been there, so all these things are a big positive for us.”
This year, we witnessed some close encounters. More of the same next year?
“That I can’t predict. Cricket is a funny game. I can’t say if we will see similar encounters next year, but first year it was two teams, this year three teams. So, something big will start off and hopefully, it gets more exciting. So, when the amount of excitement is there, there will be close and interesting encounters like the first and the fourth match."