'We never expected to reach the finals'

Last Updated 23 January 2018, 18:33 IST

Smriti  Mandhana  has been playing cricket all her life. Batswoman and fielder with the Indian women's cricket team, Smriti says that it is a dream come true for her to represent the country.

She was inspired to play professional cricket after watching her father Shrinivas Mandhana and brother Shravan play district-level cricket for Sangli. The turning point came when she was picked for the Maharashtra under-19  cricket  squad when she was barely 11. It hasn't been an easy journey for Smriti but she feels that it is the challenges that keep her going. She shares with Nina C George her experiences of playing for the country.

 What made you choose cricket as a career?

My father wanted one of us to play for the country. I used to accompany him and later, my brother for their practice sessions. I would closely follow their style. This was the beginning.

 We hear you spent most of your childhood playing cricket…

As children, my brother and I never watched much television. We would play a lot of cricket and most of our fights would revolve around cricket like batting. We had a healthy competition between us.

 Does the notion that girls can't play cricket still exist?

I think people's perception about women playing
cricket changed after the team reached the finals during the '2017 Women's Cricket World Cup'. Earlier, people didn't know that a women's cricket team existed, but now they want to know about our next match and follow our performances.

 How was it to qualify for the finals during '2017 Women's Cricket World Cup'?

We never expected to reach the finals. Every member of the team had contributed to make that happen. It was exciting to play before a packed stadium.

 What has kept the team strong?

The core team has been together for the last three years or more. Just staying together for so long has helped strengthen our bond and faith in each other.

 Who do you look up to in cricket?

Among the overseas players, I look up to Mathew Hayden and in the Indian pool, I admire Sachin Tendulkar.

How is your life off the pitch?

I love listening to music and watching movies. I also enjoy spending time with my PlayStation.

How do you tide over tough times?

Nothing is tough for me because I love what I am doing.

(Published 23 January 2018, 11:42 IST)

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