Since her debut on the international stage in 2014 at the tender age of 16, opener Smriti Mandhana has gone from prodigious to prolific and established herself as one of the best batswomen in the game.
The 23-year-old left-hander was named in the ICC Women’s Team of the Year at just 18 and was the recipient of the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Award – the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year prize in 2018.
The Mumbai native has also led the India women’s national cricket team in T20Is against England in 2019, further illustrating how highly she is touted not only as a player but also a leader.
However, it is Mandhana’s forte with the bat that makes her the highly regarded athlete that she is and on the occasion of her birthday, we look back on her best knocks so far on the international stage:
135 vs. South Africa – 2018
Against South Africa at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley, Mandhana smashed 135 off 129 balls, guiding India to a massive total of 302.
The southpaw smashed 14 boundaries and a six in her knock en route to the fourth-highest score by an India women’s cricket player in ODIs. India won the contest by 178 runs.
106* vs West Indies – 2017
Chasing 184 against West Indies in the seventh match of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup at Taunton in 2017, India found themselves in a spot of bother as opener Punam Raut and Deepti Sharma departed within the first eight overs for a combined score of six, leaving India reeling at 33-2.
Mandhana, though, was undeterred and continued to bat with her usual swagger, smashing an unbeaten 106 off 108 balls to guide India to a seven-wicket victory. The opener scored 13 boundaries and two sixes and was named the Woman of the Match for her sensational knock.
105 vs New Zealand – 2019
Having bowled well and restricted New Zealand to just 192, the Indian team needed an ensured start from their openers Jemimah Rodrigues and Mandhana in the chase to ease the nerves. The duo did more than that.
The openers forged a 190-run partnership guiding India to an easy nine-wicket win over the home side. Mandhana smashed 105 off 104 balls, which included nine fours and three sixes. This was her fourth ton in W-ODIs, meaning only Mithali Raj, with seven, has more centuries in the 50-over format for the India women’s cricket team.
102 vs Australia – 2016
Her maiden ODI ton came against Australia at Bellerive Oval in Hobart.
Batting first, India lost a wicket on the first ball of the contest, bringing captain Mithali Raj out to centre much earlier than she would have expected. While the skipper took her time and anchored the innings, Mandhana went into attack mode from the other end and smashed 11 boundaries en route to her first ODI ton.
She was dismissed on 102 as India mustered 252 on the board. The Australians, however, chased it down with ease, owing to a stellar 138-run opening stand between Nicole Bolton and Meg Lanning.
86 vs New Zealand – 2019
To avoid a whitewash in the T20I series, India needed 162 against New Zealand and got off to a terrible start as opener Priya Punia returned to the pavilion after scoring a single run. Jemimah Rodrigues couldn’t get going and was dismissed for 21 off 17 balls and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur followed suit, scoring just two off three before returning to the dressing room.
While all this was going down at the other end, Mandhana was carrying India to victory on her own. The opener bludgeoned the New Zealand bowlers for 12 fours and a six before being dismissed on 86 off 62 balls. The rest of the batting continued to struggle as India fell short by two runs and succumbed to a 3-0 loss in the T20I series.
Nevertheless, Mandhana’s 86 remains the third-highest score by an India women’s cricketer in T20 after Harmanpreet Kaur’s 103 against New Zealand and Mithali Raj’s 97 against Malaysia.
Images courtesy: AFP / William West / Indranil Mukherjee / Michael Bradley