Sangakkara lauds ‘wonderful player’ Mandhana

Acknowledging Smriti Mandhana’s admiration for him, Kumar Sangakkara felt humbled to have been mentioned by ‘such a wonderful player’.

To improve her game when things go awry, Smriti Mandhana watches videos of Kumar Sangakkara.   -  Getty Images

Twitter couldn’t stop eulogising that evening. As Smriti Mandhana sent Katherine Brunt for a hat-trick of boundaries through the off-side in the opening fixture of the Women’s World Cup, social media found the Indian opener’s batting style strikingly similar to that of a former men’s team captain — Sourav Ganguly.

What started as a mere comparison suddenly turned into a popular topic of discussion as the tournament went along, with former cricketer-turned-commentator Aakash Chopra also drawing references to Ganguly while analysing Smriti’s style of play.

But then, in an interview with Sportstar, the 21-year-old batswoman revealed that it is the former Sri Lanka skipper, Kumar Sangakkara, who motivates her.

“Whenever I feel that I am not batting the way I should, I watch videos of Kumar Sangakkara. I like his batting style,” said Smriti.

However, she was quick to point, “I also admire Ganguly, but it is Sangakkara that I relate to. I haven’t really watched Ganguly bat a lot in my young days, whereas, Sangakkara has been an inspiration.”

The opener, who during her initial days copied the batting style of his brother — Shravan Mandhana — watches videos of the Sri Lankan legend when things go awry.

“I try and play a cover drive like Sangakkara. Earlier, I used to copy my brother’s batting style. But watching Sangakkara’s batting videos give me a fair bit of idea on how I should improve,” Smriti said.

What will she do when she meets her inspiration? “I have never met him, though I really want to. Trust me, the day I meet him, I will only talk to him about batting.”

Sangakkara responds

Trying to fulfil the batswoman’s wishes, Sportstar got in touch with Sangakkara. And on Wednesday, the Sri Lankan legend showered praises for Smriti.

“Please convey to Smriti my thanks for mentioning my name. I was humbled to have been mentioned by such a wonderful player as she is,” Sangakkara wrote in a text message.

When this publication passed on the message to the Indian batswoman, Smriti was exuberant to hear Sangakkara’s message.

“Please thank him on my behalf,” Smriti reacted.

Ever since returning home, the Indian women cricketers have been flooded with various felicitations, and as the dust settles down, Smriti plans to return to training for a stronger stint with Team India.

With the Sri Lankan legend lauding her, Smriti is doubly motivated!