Smriti Mandhana, the Indian opener, became 53rd cricketer to receive Arjuna Award. She had an outstanding last one year with the bat. Recently, Mandhana had made a buzz with her performance in the Kia Super League. The left-hander scored 421 runs with a blistering strike rate of 174.68.
Apart from Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur has got Arjuna Award last year. Mithali Raj had received the award in 2003.
The 22-year-old wasn't expecting the award and talking to Women's CricZone Mandhana also revealed she had no idea what the award is about.
“It is good to get Arjuna Award. First I did not know what Arjuna Award is when I was 15-16 years old and other people used to get,” Mandhana said.
“Amrita ma’am (Amrita Shinde, the former India batter), my mentor, used to say that you will definitely get this when I am 21-22. I used to ask her, ‘what’s that award, I don’t even know.’ When I became 17-18, I understood what it is. I was not expecting to get, I used to think she was just telling like that. It feels good to get the award and definitely motivates me to be a better player and perform well.”
Mandhana believes the award will help to highlight the women's cricket. “It’s good. The more people listen about women cricketers the more the parents will send their girls to play cricket,” she added. “It is about reading in the newspaper or listening in the news about women cricketers. Awards or performances, it will all help a lot of parents to choose cricket for their girls as a career option. There will be a lot of girls playing cricket in the next two-three years and there will be healthy competition.”