Smriti Mandhana is all set to play for Western Storm in Kia Super League. The Indian batswomen agreed to play the league after the coach Trevor Griffin assured that she will open the innings. Mandhana had received a test from Griffin in Nagpur.
"The first thing he told me was that they want me to open the batting, and I was happy that I will be getting my preferred slot," revealed Mandhana in a chat with Cricbuzz.
It was important for Mandhana to get the opening slot as she has a poor record in the middle order.
Mandhana is seeing the England Super League as a preparation for Women's World Twenty20 2018 which isn't too far away. "Because playing in middle-order won't really help me prepare for the World Cup. He [Griffin] was the one who actually assured me I would be opening; he said he'd like me to utilize those first six overs. So, that's was the main consideration [for me]. I think this is the best shot for me to prepare for the World Cup," she said.
The southpaw had discussed to Indian head coach, Tushar Arothe, before agreeing to the deal with Western Storm. "I thought it would be good exposure for me; we're just months away [from World T20] and we don't have anything scheduled in India. And it's monsoon, so I can't do a lot of practice on my own either. I thought this is the best time for me to go out there and play some quality competitive matches before World Cup starts."
However, her full stint in the Super League is doubtful as Mandhana may have to leave the league for India's pre-series camp against Sri Lanka this year in September.
Mandhana, who will turn 22 this Monday, expressed her joy at being promoted to Grade A by BCCI. But her happiness wasn't for the money. She says playing as a Grade A cricketer is a pride in itself keeping the money aside. It brings responsibility.
"I never take my place in the team for granted, because everyone goes through ups and downs. So, I've never assumed I am in the team. I know I have to keep performing for me to stay in this Indian team. This is what I always keep in mind.
"Playing in England, with the foreign players, they'd be expecting me to perform being the overseas player. And having those expectations would be really good for me to prepare mentally for the World Cup, where there will be expectations from everyone back home. In that sense I can prepare and learn to deal with the 'expectations load'," she added.
"And of course, playing with all the foreign players, sharing a dressing room with these people and sharing their knowledge and how they go about their preparation and their game will be really insightful. It will be interesting to know their perspectives and probably even take it in my game if I like it. If I can improve as an individual as a cricketer and take my game one level up, it will be really great takeaway [from the Super League stint]."
Mandhana is eager to get out of her comfort zone and perform in England for her newly signed team. "You get to learn a lot of things - about yourself, about yourself as a player and where you are at. Being around your teammates gets you in a comfort zone and playing in these foreign T20 leagues gets you out of that comfort zone. You're in a new environment; you get to learn yourself better since you have a lot of time on your hand."