Smriti Mandhana, who will be presented with the Arjuna Award at Rashtrapati Bhavan on September 25th said that being conferred with the award will motivate her to be a better player.
Since the cycle beginning after the 2017 World Cup, Mandhana has a total of 669 runs in 12 matches to her name, with seven fifties and one century. New Zealand's Sophie Devine is the only player ahead of her in the list, with 700 runs in ten matches.
She has carried that form into T20 Internationals as well, and has 439 runs in 18 matches to her name, including four fifties. When it comes to her overall tally across ODIs and T20Is, she has 1139 runs to her name in 28 innings', at an average of 45.56. It is the most by an Indian women's player since the 2017 World Cup.
Mandhana also had good performances in the Kia Super League in England, where her table-topping 421 runs at a strike-rate of 174.68 took Western Storm to the Finals Day. She became the first Indian – male or female – to win the player of the tournament award in an overseas T20 league.
“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 told Women’s CricZone in Colombo on Saturday (September 21). “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.”
Having made her international debut at the age of 16 in 2013, Mandhana is the tenth woman cricketer to win the award. Shantha Rangaswamy (1976), Diana Edulji (1983), Shubhangi Kulkarni (1985), Sandhya Agarwal (1986), Mithali Raj (2003), Anju Jain (2005), Anjum Chopra (2006), Jhulan Goswami (2010) and Harmanpreet Kaur (2017) are the other women cricketers to have won it before.
“It’s good. The more people listen about women cricketers the more the parents will send their girls to play cricket,” Mandhana 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.”