Smriti Mandhana, Hobart Hurricanes’ young Indian cricket star, chasing big score against Sixers
Indian cricket star Smriti Mandhana is a left-hand bat and right-arm offbreak bowler. (Facebook: Smriti Mandhana)
With more Twitter followers than Tim Paine, Jofra Archer and Tymal Mills combined, Smriti Mandhana is the biggest name Hobart Hurricane you’ve probably never heard of.
But had it not been for the sage advice of her national coaches, the 22-year-old Indian prodigy may never have put pen to paper with the team for WBBL 4.
Meeting Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara “just made my day. A big fan girl moment for me,” Smriti said. (Facebook: Smriti Mandhana)
It was a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament sustained during last season’s competition that made a return to Australia for this year’s tournament almost too much to bear for the gun batter.
“I thought about it for a long time, should I go or not because I had that ACL,” Mandhana said.
“All my coaches said you need to go, you can’t always be in that shell of ‘you’ll go over there and get injured really bad’.”
Convinced she needed to crawl out of her comfort zone, and with a nudge from fellow Hurricanes import Heather Knight, Mandhana signed.
“As a player you need to come out of your comfort zone because you keep playing for India or domestic cricket in India with all the same players and you go into that comfort zone”
“It’s challenging to come out and play WBBL, it’s a different type of expectation as the overseas player.”
She may have been regretting the decision after being knocked over for a duck in the Hurricanes home opener against the Melbourne Stars last Saturday.
But on the following Sunday, her decision was vindicated
Smriti Manhana speaks about her return to form after her injury comeback (Video: ICC)
Burnie, in Tasmania’s north west, could not be further removed from Mandhana’s home town of Mumbai and its 18 million cricket mad inhabitants — but it was there where she blasted 50 off just 24 balls before going to score 69 to lead her new team to their first win of this year’s tournament.
“I was disappointed with the first match, I wanted to go out there and contribute to the team but I was not able to do that,” she said.
“It was really good to come back the next day and score some runs for the team.”
Mandhana has a number of sponsorship deals, one of them with India’s biggest footwear manufacturer. (Facebook: Smriti Mandhana)
Boasting a whopping combined two million followers across her social media platforms, Mandhana’s real power could lie with her ability to inspire Tasmania’s next generation of women’s cricketers via her enormous profile.
The Hurricanes WBBL coach Saliann Briggs knows she has a dangerous weapon at her disposal — one that could help fast track the development of the next batch of female Hurricanes.
“We want to have 80 per cent of our players Tasmanian,” she said.
Mandhana is hoping to put on another show at Bellerive this weekend when the Hurricanes host the Sydney Sixers as part of a double-double header over two days.
It’s a return to the ground where she posted her first international century — but that knock won’t be on her mind.
“We have the Sixers ahead and I’m thinking about how I score runs and help my team win.
“In cricket, it is really important to be in the present, you should not think about your past or future.