India batswoman Smriti Mandhana recently grabbed the headlines for her stellar showing in the Kia Super League. Playing for Western Storm, Mandhana finished the tournament as the leading run-scorer and was deservedly adjudged Player of the Series.
Smriti was in fabulous form all through the showpiece event, having amassed the scores of 48, 37, 52*, 43*, 102, 56, 49, 29 and 5 in nine innings. Although Western Storm suffered an agonizing 9-run defeat at the hands of Surrey Stars in the semi-final, the season will be remembered for Mandhana’s belligerent strike-rate of 174.68.
The most notable aspect about Smriti Mandhana’s batting in KSL was her effortless six hitting. She struck 21 sixes in 9 innings during the tournament.
In an exclusive interview with Cricketnext, Mandhana explained how power hitting has taken her game to a different level in recent times.
“Earlier I didn’t have that power to clear the rope. I used to deal a lot in boundaries than in sixes. Playing the lofted shots straight over the bowler’s head was not really my strength,” Smriti quoted.
“I am lucky that my coach is an allrounder. He can bowl off-spin, leg spin and pace. We had two to three buckets, and in each, there were 25 to 30 balls. Each bucket was for a certain delivery. So, I used to play at least 60 balls of lofted shots every day in Sangli (her hometown). Doing something regularly for a period of eight months helps. I got the confidence to execute those shots in matches,” she added.
Mandhana’s KSL success can’t be measured by the number of runs. In contrast to her forgettable stint with Brisbane Heat in 2016-17 WBBL, she enjoyed her time with the Storm and made new friends. She also picked up a trick or two from Sourav Ganguly, Kumar Sangakkara, Fran Wilson, and Heather Knight.
“I didn’t speak much to my teammates in WBBL. I learned that you cannot always wait for people to come to talk to you. Also, in Australia, we stayed separately in apartments and many of them used to go back to their homes. That used to depress me,” Mandhana remarked.
“This time I was relaxed and made the first move to speak to people. We were all staying together for a month, which helped us bond well,” she elaborated.
Mandhana recorded the joint-fastest fifty in Women’s T20s, and her 61-ball 102 in a successful chase against Lancashire Thunder was the highlight of her tournament.
“I have been throwing my wicket away when we need 40-50 runs, or when we are in 120s while batting first. So, to be able to almost bat through in that match made me really happy,” she said about her hundred.
“If as a settled batter I get out midway then it is hard for new batters to score straightaway when the required run-rate is eight or nine. I was really pleased that I was able to do something that I had been thinking of doing for a long time,” Mandhana concluded.