Cricket Challenge with Smriti Mandhana
Smriti Mandhana is one of India’s greatest cricket batters.
At the age of nine, she was already representing the under-15 Maharashtra women’s team. And at the age of 11, she was part of the state’s under-19 team. In October 2013, she became the first Indian woman to achieve a double-hundred in a one-day game. In the same year she secured a spot in the Maharashtra senior team and also made her India team T20 debut.
In 2018, she became the third Indian woman to score 1000 T20I runs. She received the Arjuna Award for her achievements, as well as the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Award for the best female cricketer of the year and was named the ODI Player of the year.
In 2019, she became India’s youngest T20 captain, claimed the awards of International Woman Cricketer of the Year, and became the third-fastest female cricketer to score 2,000 ODI runs.
Smriti is one of the world’s elite cricketers and plays in a league of her own. She is her own greatest competition. And recognizing this, she was put to a unique test with the Cricket Challenge.
It was quite a lot of fun. I didn’t expect that it would go down to the very last ball
Based off the wagon wheel used to define zones on the cricket field, the Cricket Challenge had Smriti set a best score in 10 deliveries, and then unknown to her, she had to chase down her own score in the second round.
Watch the video above to find out how she performed and read her chat with host Jatin Sapru below.
Smriti Mandhana interview with Jatin Sapru
Jatin: Smriti, well done! Fabulous show!
Smriti: Thank you.
Jatin: When we were coming up with this challenge we were wondering – would it be easy or would it be tough? I’m quite sure, with target zones, when you have the pressure of hitting one specific spot, it gets more difficult. How did you find it?
Smriti: It was quite a lot of fun. I didn’t expect that it would go down to the very last ball and it would become so interesting. It was a lot of fun. And I think it was very good practice for me. I think I can set up these kinds of zones and targets at my training ground back home to practice for the T20 format.
Jatin: We see this so much from top athletes, being in the zone. And now we’ve seen you to hit the ball in the right zone. You’ve got some big matches coming up, so hopefully this has been good practice. But apart from that, we need more people in the zone. We need more Smriti Mandhanas. People talk about “catching them young”. Do you think we need to catch them right from school? Because in school, you have games period, and you see all the boys run to the cricket field, but the girls are generally playing volleyball or basketball. It's very stereotypical. Do you think it will help if more girls picked up cricket right from the games period?
Smriti: Yeah, definitely. I think that school is the perfect time to start playing cricket. When you're between seven and 14 years old, that’s when you can pick up a sport really well. I think school is the perfect time. I remember when I was in school – I loved cricket since I was five – but it was very difficult for me to find playing partners. My friends didn’t play cricket and there wasn’t anything for women’s cricket at the school level. So I used to mostly play with the boys. But now with Red Bull Campus Cricket starting for women, I think it’ll encourage more girls’ teams in school and I think young female cricketers will have people to play with. They’ll learn, they’ll enjoy, they’ll grow, and we’ll probably get new talent from there.
Jatin: That’s what we’re thinking. Play in school, then come to college and play Red Bull Campus Cricket. The world is your oyster. But for all the young girls who have a poster of Smriti Mandhana in their house, it's so amazing that you're inspiring them at such a young age. And you're doing it the right way, Smriti, that’s the most important thing. Do you have any message for all those young girls out there who look up to you?
Smriti: Firstly, I'd like to thank them. I feel to inspire someone is the biggest achievement. Even if I could inspire four girls to pick up a bat and ball to play cricket, it’s an achievement for me. Just one message I’ll pass on is what I’ve learnt and applied in my cricket life, and that is to enjoy each moment. Enjoy each practice session. Try to go out there and do it for myself. Many times, you do something just for the sake of it or because your coach or your parents told you to. But I don’t think that work shows in the results. When you do it for yourself and enjoy the process, the results come automatically. That’s what I try to do. I try and enjoy each ball I play. Even when I’m out of form – although it’s much harder – I try and enjoy that whole practice session. It doesn’t guarantee a 100% result, but it’s the best possible chance to convert it into a result.
Jatin: Yes, that’s the most important thing. And we heard it a lot from MS Dhoni – process equals result! I hope you keep getting the results. Today you got an amazing result, and no one had even imagined that it would be so explosive! This challenge was full of thrills, but now it’s time to chill. Thanks so much, Smriti. I hope you enjoyed the Cricket Challenge. This is just the beginning. There is so much more that’s planned. Many more top cricketers will be coming to this arena to test their skills.