HomeBCCIAn Ode to Smriti Mandhana- The Fire of the...

An Ode to Smriti Mandhana- The Fire of the Indian Cricket Team

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Cricket compliments an age of free expression with the way talents express themselves with either the bat or the ball.
However, not everyone believes in being straightforward in their communication. Not everyone believes in producing straightforward magic tricks on the 22 yards.
Some love fireworks. Some go for their shots, abstaining from offering the dead end of the bat.

Some show belief in the blunt power of the blade.

Mandhana has given India solid starts opening the innings (Image: Hindustan Times)

Everyone’s envy, but nobody’s fool.
Fighting fire with fire, battling hot with the cool- Smriti Mandhana doesn’t play shots but produces fire on the crease, something none can learn in any school.
Age is just a number, everyone says, whether number crunchers or cricketing tragics.
You look at Smriti Mandhana playing the pull in front of square and tab the ball deftly to the third man and she bewilders all cricketing logic.
At 22, her game’s already mature and seems sorted. Add a little patience, probably something she might like to add a year down the line and she’ll make the hardest bowlers appear a bit retarded. For, they are already flustered about how to get her out early.
On two major occasions, failure to dislodge Smriti from the crease resulted in peril nightmare for teams. Up first, England powered by Sciver, Brunt, Gunn learnt an early lesson not to bowl short in the 2017 World Cup.
The result? 90 runs off 72 balls.
Then, the West Indies failed to watch the highlights of Smriti against England. They went a step ahead and bowled fuller if not short. The result? A 106.

What was going on, all wondered?

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Smriti Mandhana celebrating after scoring a century (Image: Deccan Chronicle)

Mithali was reading Rumi out of the pitch, away from the crease.
Harman was shadow-striking strokes in the dugout.
It was a Mandhana-show all along that made headlines way before Harman made the Aussies fly in the semis (171 not out).
You can anoint her adjectives endlessly. Her game beckons that. She is the fuel in the sports car. Perhaps, even a bumper sticker expression on a waggon speeding on the highway, saying, “keep off.”
You know what happens when a Brunt or Bates bowl one short or even slow. Even a mistimed cross-batted heave lands over the ropes, killing all hopes.
One moment she may seem the Gayle of women’s cricket and a left-handed Sehwag on the other. But in all moments, Smriti Mandhana is herself- purely passionate and utterly unrelenting.

The bat is her weapon of choice.

Smriti Mandhana playing a late cut (Image: Hindustan Times)

Just the way it was to the greats earlier, it seems. The willow is to Smriti what the mike was for Sir Benaud and what the bowl is to Mir or Brunt. Just like what it had been to Lillee and Hadlee then.
Even before she turned 22, Mandhana collected 1400 plus ODI runs, had scored the record for being the force behind India’s fastest T20 fifty. She had, at that young age, personified what commentators truly mean when they yell, “It’s carnage out there.”
And truth be told, she didn’t pardon anyone- whether Lanning’s Perry, Bates’ Kasperek or Mir’s Iqbal.
Smriti Mandhana plunders runs and gets behind all.
As the fan notices that the likes of Goswami and Mithali are ageing and the task of scoring often rests with Harmanpreet, there’s smiles and gratitude in knowing Smriti is around and guess what at 22, is only starting.

God knows at what milestone will she end?

To her, the bowler is an enemy to be gunned down and the bat is often the machine-gun.
The good news for fans is that she’s often hungry for runs and chasing big scores for the team. The bad news belongs to her opponents. In cricketing lexicon, having spent nearly 4 years, she’s still a newborn and has only just begun.
Keep coming at them hard Smriti.

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