Smriti Mandhana and India seek to clear out rough edges

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Over the past 15 months, Smriti Mandhana’s passport has been stamped in (nearly) all cricket-playing countries. In turn, she has stacked up enough numbers and records to make each of the trips memorable. She’s not rested her kit bat for more than a week at a stretch since the start of 2018 – not that Mandhana is complaining, with the kind of year and a half she’s had. The rewards still continue to pour in, on and off the field.When she last checked the ICC rankings, Mandhana was still fourth on the list and, thought to herself, a long way away from topping it yet. The ODI Player of the Year was “probably on the cards” but to top it off with the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Award for the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year was the stuff of dreams. Mandhana admits she didn’t have a good grasp of what Forbes 30 Under 30 meant when she first heard her name was in the Class of 2019. And now the 22-year-old finds herself at the helm of a transitioning Indian T20I team in the injury-forced absence of regular captain Harmanpreet Kaur.
India’s 15-month preparation window from the now infamous 2018 ICC World T20 semifinal exit to the next showpiece event in Australia began with a 3-0 whitewash at the hands of New Zealand, and England promises to be an even tougher nut to crack. But, at the moment, cracking the winning formula and not throwing away starts remain the top-most priority of the team and its stand-in captain. Time and again Mandhana has stressed the need for individuals to step up and finish games for India. Time and again she’s been critical of her own self for not being that player despite the purple patch she’s in.