Grace, elegance and a composed head — that’s how Smriti Mandhana operates. She likes keeping it simple. The Sangli girl was awarded the Sportswoman of the Year (Cricket) at the Sportstar ACES Awards 2020, in association with MRF, in Mumbai, for the second year in a row.
In 2019, Mandhana became the third-fastest woman to score 2,000 runs in ODI cricket when she hit a match-winning fifty against West Indies in November. In seven ODIs, she amassed 423 runs at an average of 70.50. “The award is a validation that you have done well for India. There have been ups and downs last year; got injured and had to make a comeback to get back to scoring. It has been a good year and I have learnt a lot of things.
“An award motivates you to go back and work hard, do what you have done to score those runs. Hopefully, I will keep scoring and win matches for India,” said Mandhana.
On attending the event for the second time, she said, “This year, I think, the preparations are much more grand than last year. It is always exciting to be at the Sportstar ACES Awards as we can get to meet all the athletes. We don’t get to meet them often.”
Mandhana also had a brilliant run in the T20Is, scoring 405 runs in 14 matches. Appearing for Western Storm in the Kia Super League in England and Wales, she scored 268 runs in 11 innings.
Nineteen-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues was also a strong contender for the award but Mandhana doesn’t see her as a competitor. “We are team-mates. She has also been amazing for India in the past one year. The way she is playing, at 19, is amazing. It is good to watch her bat from the other end.”
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, chess ace Vishwanathan Anand, The Hindu Publishing Group chairman N. Ram, former India hockey captain M. M. Somaya, Olympian shooter Anjali Bhagwat and Olympian shuttler Aparna Popat selected the deserving winners in categories involving young athletes, teams, coaches and parathletes.
The awards look to create a medium of knowledge and vision exchange as it brings all stakeholders of Indian sports under one roof.
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