When Smriti Mandhana comes out to bat, the traffic of Mumbai doesn’t stop, the MCG doesn’t increase in its length, not a single bird refuses to vacate the clear blue skies hovering above Connaught Place, and certainly, the London eye doesn’t blink.

But what does happen, either when Smriti Mandhana dances down the track or serves the misleading fodder to the bowler that the one around the off may be well-left, but instead shown way to the cover boundary, cricket seems a better game.

Most batswomen have two to three theories in which they approach batting. To a particular lot, it’s an art form that they love to beautify, caressing the mid-wicket or breaching through the point region with an effervescence second only to Michelangelo’s epics in Roma. You’d put Mithali, Tammy Beaumont, or Rachel Haynes into this league.

Then there are those that love to soldier on, no matter what.

A Mignon Du Preez in her valiant fifty in the 2017 World Cup versus England comes to the mind as does Sophie Devine and Amy Satterthwaite.

And that told, there are the sparks of pure belligerence of the kinds that a Suzie Bates, Deandra Dottin, Alyssa Healy, and Smriti Mandhana lend to the fire that’s Women’s Cricket. They needn’t make boisterous, death-metal like sound from the meat of the bat always. Theirs can be tiny mutant sparks but the bowlers know what they’re up against when these batswomen go after the white ball.

In an age favouring instant gratification but also the typically melancholic theory of the better part of the cricket-viewing audience still very much resting with the men’s game, Smriti Mandhana has put the spectator back on the bench.

Quite frankly, it doesn’t quite matter to the Mumbai-based opener as to where might she kick up a storm whether it’s the Wankhede, Potchefstroom, Darren Sammy Stadium or the Sher-E-Bangla.

In fact, against England, a few hours ago, Smriti Mandhana proved she’s worth her salt by ending up as India’s top scorer- with 72 finely accumulated runs- in a relatively low-scoring outing for biggies like Harmanpreet and company.

As her team proved no match to England, a series contested in India, Smriti proved the lone fighter, contributing a valiant 58 in the final and thus, in the third T20 of the series that India lost out on.

Smriti Mandhana's ICC T20 ranking
India Today

To that end, that the ICC have picked Smriti, on fire for the better part of 2018, among the top 3 in the T20 rankings is neither surprising nor a new signature of her ability as a batswoman. That it was Smriti not any other batswoman who truly magnified the meaning of the Western Storm; her outfit in the 2018’s T20 English league, followed by a majestic run against leading opponents like South Africa confirmed her status as a glowing name the sport.

For now, let’s join hands in admiration for this earnest albeit fascinating cricketer and hope her team returns to the winning ways, sooner than later.

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