Girls in India, conventionally, do not play cricket but Smriti Mandhana is one such braveheart, jisne apne sapno ko udaan di bina society ki chinta kiye. The cricketer has managed to win accolades over the years for her fluent strokeplay and her ability to take on the best bowlers from across the globe.
The journey to the top for the ICC Women’s Cricketer of 2018 was anything but easy, but Mandhana refused to back down. With four hundreds and 17 fifties in ODIs after 51 games, the opener is a shining example of the fact ki young girls agar chaahe toh impossible bhi achieve kar sakti hain. “When I was growing up, not many people knew that India had a women’s cricket team. My family did not know who to approach so that I could take it up as my career, bohot saari future uncertainty thi, but I loved cricket. The joy of playing was bigger than my fears, aur maine kabhi haar nahi maani.”
Mandhana never backed down and went on to play for Team India when she was just 17 years of age. “I cannot describe what I felt when I received my India jersey. Mere salon ki mehnat rang laayi. It was surreal,” she recounts.
However, the foray into international cricket was anything but easy. She was criticized for her technique and self-doubts crept in when she could not score runs. She was also troubled with injuries early on in her career, which meant that she was away from the sport for long periods. “Maine bade players ki consistency ko dekha and I realized the demands of international cricket. “When I could not score runs, I thought that I was not good enough to play for India. I doubted myself and constantly compare myself to the bigger players.” Mandhana, thus decided to work on improving her mental strength, jiske bina public eye mein survival mushkil tha. A poor World Cup in 2017 where she could not score big runs was challenging but she knew she had to come back stronger. “I take failures as my biggest motivation. Even though I had a poor run in the 2017 World Cup, mujhe khud par bharosa tha.”
The 24-year old reworked on her game and marked a strong comeback in 2018, as she emerged as the leading run-scorer in a domestic T20 league in England. She also won the ICC Women’s ODI Player and the ICC Women’s Player of the Year award that year, thus proving ki koi bhi obstacle himmat se bada nahi hota. “Accept failures like you accept success, but never let failures make you believe you are not good enough,” she says.
Having stamped herself as one of the brightest talents in the world of cricket, Mandhana is proud that she went after her dreams, and encourages young girls in India to follow suit. “Just follow your dreams. Darr ko kabhi bhi raaste mein aane mat do because if you do not do what you love, you will never be able to enjoy life.”
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