Smriti Mandhana doffs hat to pioneers of Indian women's cricket

Mandhana's jovial nature and maturity shine through as she talks about women's cricket in India and the changing perceptions.

Smriti Mandhana scored a 90 for Trailblazers against Supernovas in the first match of the Women's T20 Challenge.   -  V. V. Krishnan

"Where's my face? I can't see it anywhere. Never mind, that was a lame joke," laughs Smriti Mandhana when asked to comment on how she felt about becoming the 'face of women's cricket in India.'

Mandhana's jovial nature and maturity shone through as she talked about women's cricket in India and the changing perceptions.

Team India vice-captain Mandhana was adjudged ‘Women’s Cricketer of the Year’ as well as the ‘Women’s ODI Player of the Year’ by the ICC, and has been one of the leading batters in women's cricket. She drew attention to the pioneers. "We are reaping the benefits of the hard work put in by the likes of Diana (Edulji) ma'am, Jhulu di (Jhulan Goswami),  Mithali (Raj) di, Harry di (Harmanpreet).

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"While the 2017 50-over World Cup run (India reached the finals ) did start an upswing, the process was started by these legends of the game. I don't think about being the face because those things put unnecessary pressure on you. My job is to go out there and score runs for my team," Mandhana said on the sidelines of the Red Bull Campus Cricket event at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Friday.

Jaipur recently hosted the women’s T20 exhibition matches from May 6-10, with a total of four games, featuring three teams — Supernovas, Trailblazers and Velocity — squaring off against each other in a round robin format.

And with talks of a women's IPL already in the pipeline,  Mandhana, who has featured in the Big Bash (Australia's T20 league) and became the first Indian to play in the Kia Super League (England's T20 tourney), feels these are exciting times to be playing cricket in India.

"BCCI has a roadmap with regard to the Women's IPL and we are happy with the progress. They've done a fantastic job so far. That said, one can't compare a women's T20 league in India with say, the Big Bash. They're an eight-team competition and we are three (one team was added this year). You also have to take into account the massive popularity that cricket enjoys in our country. So this isn't to say one league is better than the other, but we are happy with the way things are moving at the moment."