Smriti Mandhana‘s attacking style, marked by delightful drives and punishing pulls, has ushered in a new wave of fans to the often forgotten world of women’s cricket.
“She was a mere three years old when she took a plastic bat in her hand and since then she continues to hold the bat and hit big shots,” said father Shrinivas during a recent interview with TOI.
“Her style of holding the bat straight and hitting the plastic ball hinted that she had an inclination for cricket.”
“We never forced both of them to choose cricket. After playing some state-level tournaments, Shravan gave up active cricket and joined my business. Smriti continued and is now excelling for India,” added the father.
“We listened to advice from a Matunga cricket club coach in Mumbai. He told us ‘don’t force cricket on her though she has got the talent. Let her play till she enjoys playing and that way she will become a good player’. We followed it and we were not shocked after she was selected to represent Maharashtra at an early age.”
Things were not so easy for the mother, Smita Mandhana, though.
“Making up my mind to allow my daughter to choose cricket as a career was tough, especially from a place like Sangli where hardly any girl plays cricket. We asked her to play tennis or badminton, but she was determined to play only cricket and finally, we had to accept her wish.
“Initially, it was difficult for me to digest the fact. However, her achievements at a younger age reduced the fear and we started focussing on her career.
“She had never played any other game except cricket. Even as a child, she played plastic ball cricket and had never touched any toy,” Smriti’s mother was quoted as saying.
Here are top 15 pictures of young sensation Smriti Mandhana:
15.) Smriti playing with plastic ball in her early days
14.) Smriti with elder brother Shravan
13.) Mandhana with her childhood friend