“There would be 200-300 boys playing and I was the only girl”, recalls Smriti Mandhana

Indian opener Smriti Mandhana had a noteworthy 2021 impressing everyone with her two centuries, both of which found a place in the record book.

Finishing as the leading Test and T20I run-scorer for India as well as for Sydney Thunder WBBL, Mandhana smashed the first pink ball test ton by an Indian woman against Australia in September. Making 127 she also recorded the highest individual score by a woman in a Test on Australian soil. Just a couple of months after this milestone, she went on to become the first Indian to score a WBBL century and recorded the equal highest individual score in the history of WBBL (114*).

 

Smriti Mandhana scored Maiden WBBL Century - 114 Runs
Smriti Mandhana scored Maiden WBBL Century – 114 Runs

 

To celebrate Mandhana’s success in 2021 and know her plans for the World Cup year, Red Bull had a fruitful interaction with her.

During the conversation, Mandhana appreciated the transformation women’s cricket has witnessed since the time of her debut in 2013. From not even being aware of the existence of a women’s cricket team to now following their schedule, performances and even criticizing them, women’s cricket in India has improved a lot.

On being asked about her test century, she recalls how excited she was when the announcement for their first-ever day-night test came and how she kept pink balls in her kit, though didn’t get a chance to practice. She further shared the special feeling of being able to contribute with a triple-digit number that too when the team was put in to bat first by the Aussies.

 

Maiden Test Century for Smriti Mandhana
Maiden Test Century for Smriti Mandhana

 

The 25 years old who also became the first Indian woman to score both Test and ODI Century in Australia, shared her mindset while playing the format she wasn’t used to, being dominating in T20I and ODIs with her powerful shots. Mandhana said,

“In T20 and ODIs I would go for my shots; in Test format, I was trying to wait for balls which are in my area and not try and convert everything. That was the one thing I told myself, don’t just hurry into shots.”

Like others, she also believes that a five-day test is much better than a four-day match as in the latter if rain spoils even half of your day, the probability of getting a one-sided result is close to impossible.

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Further, the WBBL star also supported the demand for women’s edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) mentioning the success of Australia’s Tahlia McGrath who though made her T20I debut during their series in October but ended up being one of the top performers because of the experience and confidence she has developed playing Big Bash Cricket.

However, the fact that 2021 was a new beginning after what we can say a locked 2020 can’t be behind. While we used to stay at home following all Covid protocols, these players had to live a bubble life, locked up in their hotel rooms. Smriti pointed out this as one of the toughest challenges as your mind obviously needs to refresh after a tiring or a bad day which can’t be done when all you have is a hotel to be in. Having said that, she also shared the good side of this which brought the team closer to each other.

 

Smriti Mandhana in action. PC: Getty Images
Smriti Mandhana in action. PC: Getty Images

 

The Sangli born also praised Red Bull’s Campus Cricket initiative which would help in bringing the best female cricketers in the country, taking the Indian team ahead maybe in four to five years.

“I’m sure because of Red Bull Campus Cricket a lot of more colleges are going to think, ‘We want to win that,’ and start a women’s team for their college. That will help the domestic structure for women’s cricket. Going forward it will have a lot of advantages for the Indian women’s cricket team. We may not get to see the impact in a year or two, but maybe four to five years down the line”, she said.

Smriti now shifts her focus to the ICC Women’s World Cup next year. She shared with Red Bull how she has set small targets for herself as a batter and even for her fitness. She also talks about the confidence tour to England and Australia has given the team and how they consider playing the World Cup host in their country itself before the big tournament as an added opportunity.

Loves all things female cricket

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