Adding a new dimension

Smriti Mandhana was named Sportswoman of the Year (Cricket) at the Sportstar Aces Awards supported by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, in association with MRF.

Smriti Mandhana’s power hitting was on display all over the world in 2018.   -  AFP

Smriti Mandhana he may not have been the Indian women’s highest run-getter in 2018 in either of the two predominant formats in international cricket. While Mithali Raj’s One-Day International tally for the calendar year was 15 runs more than the 669 accumulated by Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur had accumulated 663 runs — 41 more than the stylish left-hander in Twenty20 Internationals.

Still, the kind of impact that the opening batter had across formats — that too consistently — in a year marred with controversies for Indian women’s cricket meant she was the most deserving recipient of the Sportswoman of the Year (Cricket) at the Sportstar Aces Awards supported by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, in association with MRF.

Ever since she started batting in the backyard of her home in Sangli — a town in western Maharashtra — Mandhana has idolised Sourav Ganguly and Kumar Sangakkara. In 2018, besides retaining her ability to caress the ball through the gaps like Sangakkara, it was incredible to see Mandhana adding Ganguly’s trait of lofting the ball into the stands to her batting.

“Earlier I would focus more on hitting fours, but the amount of effort put in from all aspects in the off-season after the 2017 World Cup, with the help of my personal coach Anant Tambvekar, has helped me improve my power hitting. And it has helped me a great deal since then,” reveals Mandhana.

Mandhana’s power hitting was not only on display in Indian colours across the world — in South Africa, India, Sri Lanka and the West Indies during the World T20 — but she also lit up the Kia Super League, running away with the Player of the Tournament award in the franchise-based T20 league in England.