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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2022 Women's T20I batting winner: The brute force of Smriti Mandhana

The opener's pulsating knock took India to the Commonwealth Games final

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
18-Mar-2023
Intimidation was not a part of Mandhana's game when she broke through in 2013-14. She was classy, elegant and pleasing on the eye, but her coaches told her she couldn't afford to be soft on the opposition bowlers. She took that advice seriously and worked on building a robust power game.
Bowling attacks now know there's little leeway up top against Mandhana, because she can not only hit good balls, she can hit just about any ball she wants to. In this game, even before England's bowlers had settled into their lengths, she was on her way, bringing up a quick-fire half-century to set India up.
She tore into teenage offspinner Alice Capsey and 20-year-old fast bowler Issy Wong in the powerplay to bring up India's 50 inside five overs.

Key moment

Wong can be a challenging bowler to face because of her skiddy deliveries, which make it tricky for batters to line up their pulls, especially on surfaces that zip around. But when Wong pitched a short one to Mandhana in the fourth over, the ball sailed over deep midwicket for one of the biggest sixes of the match.

The numbers

27 Number of balls India took to raise their half-century - their fastest in T20Is
23 Number of balls Mandhana took to get to her half-century, the fastest for India, beating her own previous record by one ball, set against New Zealand in 2019

What they said

"Smriti Mandhana had a fantastic innings. I think she probably hasn't played one better in a big match. She really took it to our bowlers, who were a little bit off. We probably didn't execute how we wanted to, but that's cricket isn't it?"
- England head coach Lisa Keightley

The closest contenders

Grace Harris
37 vs India, Birmingham

Batting for the first time in a T20I since 2016, Harris came in at No. 7 and played aggressively in a key partnership with Ashleigh Gardner. She smashed 37 off 20 balls to help Australia to a win that had looked unlikely when Renuka Singh tore through the top order to take figures of 4 for 18.
Tahlia McGrath
91 not out vs England, Adelaide

Any relief England may have had after dismissing Alyssa Healy early in a 170-run chase in the Ashes opener dissipated when they ran into McGrath, who blasted a career-best 91 off 49 balls to help Australia cruise home by nine wickets.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo