No women's sport has received as much love in recent times as the Indian women's cricket team, riding a wave of consecutive wins. The team decimated rivals Pakistan by 95 runs in the ICC Women's World Cup on Sunday, their third win in the tournament. While the entire team, captain Mithali Raj included, is the toast of all social platforms, Smriti Mandhana, the team's left-handed opening batsman has been making her share of the headlines for her incredible batting streak.
All of 20, Mandhana has helped the Indian team add up on the run rate. Last week against England, she had scored a scorching 90 runs in only 72 balls. After that she scored an unbeaten 106 against West Indies.
But Mandhana's rise to fame has not been without hard work. Her childhood coach says she that she has always been hard working. Mandhana was trained by Anant Tambvekar.
He tells Deccan Chronicle, "Smriti was very lively since her childhood. But at the nets, she was extremely disciplined."
Now in the Indian Team, Tambekar tells the newspaper, she has not forgotten her coach. He says, "After scoring the century in the group league match in the World Cup she called me from London, asked me whether she had made any technical mistake during her century. I did not expect a phone call from her."
While she is now become one of the well known faces of the women's team, her first claim to fame was when she scored a double century in the West Zone Women's Under-19 one-day tournament in Vadodara in 2013. She was only 17 years old then.
Mandhana is said to have been encouraged by her brother to play cricket. After her double century, with a bat given by Rahul Dravid, she told The Times of India: "My father always encouraged us to play cricket. In fact, he wanted that we both play for India some day. My brother opted out of cricket but I am happy that I could fulfil my father's dream."
While her brother is now working with ICICI Bank, Mandhana is killing it on the greens.
She told Wisden India in 2014, "I used to tell my mother that I too want my name in the newspapers, like my brother. Therefore I got dedicated, as cricket is the only sport in India through which it is possible to be in the papers for a long time."
Mandhana made her ODI debut in 2013 against Bangladesh and her Test debut in 2013 against England. Born in Mumbai, she moved with her parents to Sangli when she was young.
Speaking about the how hard she trained as a child, she had told ESPN, "I used to train in the morning, then go to school, and then have nets in the evening. Sometimes, if the teachers let me go early, I used to finish evening nets and then go home and watch TV."
Often, Mandhana is compared to male cricketers. Recently, when a fan compared her with Virendra Sehwag, the cricketer replied on Twitter saying:
She is the first version of Smriti and is really special. Every Indian who loves sports will be proud of her. Wish her and the team the best https://t.co/RrjavFVLc0— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) June 30, 2017
And while she had a rare failure against Pakistan, here's hoping she keeps up her spree of scoring runs in the upcoming matches.