How Jhulan Goswami’s No.1 ranking inspired Smriti Mandhana

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first_imgSmriti Mandhana is No.1 in the ICC’s batting charts for women after a sensational 2018. She was on fire in New Zealand where she hit 400 runs from 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is. In short, she is the mainstay of the Indian batting line-up.Mandhana slays bowling attacks in style and she does it with a smile. The left-handed batter from Sangli said she was inspired by senior India teammate Jhulan Goswami to aspire and become No.1.Smriti Mandhana spoke exclusively to India Today on a range of topics. Excerpts: Rasesh Mandani: You are fun-loving person off the field but with the bat in hand, you give bowlers a headache.Smriti Mandhana: No, even now when I look at my batting videos, I am always smiling. My teammates tease me and ask why I am always smiling. So often when I meet bowlers from the opposition, off the field, I ask them why they give me such fierce looks when I actually smile at them. They say it’s because I keep bashing us. That feels good to hear. It feels good to contribute to victories.RM: It must also feel good to win all the batting accolades. ICC Player of the Year, ICC ODI player of the year. No.1 in ICC rankings..SM: When Jhulan di (Goswami) became the No.1 bowler in the world, I had read about it in the newspapers. That stuck in my mind and I wanted to become No.1 too. I don’t want to be content just getting there. It motivates you to work harder.advertisementRM: With success comes commercial rewards too. You enjoy doing these ad shoots and brand endorsements now? SM: It’s part of life for an athlete. I don’t enjoy it as much as batting. It was difficult initially but now I am getting used to it. In front of the camera, you do a lot of things that you may not do on the cricket field. It’s good to tie up with Redbull now.RM: Has there been a trigger moment somewhere with your batting. My mind goes back to the 2017 World Cup where you came back after a long injury layoff, had that one big knock against England and then lost your way a little. And then did anything change since, to have this rich run of scores, all over the world? SM: After World Cup 2017, I had six or seven bad innings. That’s when I spoke to a lot of my coaches. Tushar Arothe was India’s coach then. He told me that I should try an open stance. He had been saying it for a long time but I didn’t take it very seriously before. But when you have a lean patch for long that’s when you consider acting on advice. The open stance has helped me a lot and the results have followed. I have also strived to make sure that my batting does not take a hit again.RM: It’s also evident that you have added a number of ariel shots to your game. That’s paid you rich dividends in T20 cricket..SM: When you are chasing 170-180, you can’t continue to bat the same way. You have to try and score at a rate you are not used to. It’s one thing that I was lacking. And sometimes in T20, you can get caught out playing ground strokes. So I have tried to take the ariel route with the same well timed strokes.I have been working on them for the past two or three years and now in the last year-year and a half, it’s finally paying off.It’s also the need of the hour in T20’s, especially in power play. Pick the gaps and play chip shots too. All these shots were not my strength before.RM: But from the team point of view, the middle order is struggling. It was only you and Jemimah Rodrigues who scored amongst the batters. Does that get frustrating? SM: What’s frustrating as a batter is when you are well into 70’s and 80’s and you are not able to finish off games. I can’t think for other batters but what I and Jemimah always talk is when we are in we should try and win more matches for Team India.From the team point of view, there are a lot of things we need to work on, especially in T20 cricket. We have been working on them with our new coach, WV Raman and hopefully in two three months we will start getting there.advertisementWe started well in New Zealand with the bowlers doing a good job, especially the spinners did well in New Zealand. Even in T20’s we looked on course in most games until we would lose our way. So there are areas to address and we are working on them. Raman sir has been really good in last two three months.RM: You have gained quite a bit of experience now. If an opportunity were to arise, do you dream of being an India captain? SM: I am not someone who thinks too far ahead. At the moment the focus is on winning the odi and T20 series against England. It’s always better to live in today rather than thinking about tomorrow.Also Read | Smriti Mandhana retains top spot in ICC Women’s ODI rankingslast_img

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