Ace batswoman Smriti Mandhana who continues to perform brilliantly on the field as the opener and number one ODI batswoman was awarded with the Arjuna Award on Tuesday by the Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Kiren Rijeju in a ceremony held in New Delhi. The all-rounder is levelling up her game in the lead up to the Women’s T20 World Cup early next year. Since she missed the award function last year owing to international commitments, it was a special gathering organised to honour her stellar achievements.

After being awarded the ODI Player of the Year by ICC, this is yet another feather in her cap. The talented batswoman received the award after her outstanding performance at the recently-concluded Women’s T20 Challenge. In April this year, she was also awarded ‘Women’s Leading Cricketer of the Year’ in the 2018 edition of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. She has already registered 1951 runs in the format at a remarkable average of 42.41.

At 22, Mandhana is the number one T20 women cricketer in the world.

This season saw the 22-year-old reach the top of the ODI rankings. Mandhana is not in a mood to rest and she is looking forward to the upcoming cricketing season that starts in September with the South Africa series. Speaking about her batting she said, “I and Coach Raman sir have been discussing quite a bit about my game. How I can become more consistent in T20 cricket, how I can add more power to my game. I still feel I need to improve on that front.”

Rijiju praised the player for her contribution to the sport and country. “Mandhana is well known in international cricket. She is the best batswoman in the world. I want to congratulate her and want her to continue doing the same,” he added,  TOI reported.

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Mandhana has been on a fitness camp at the NCA in Bengaluru, said she has a lot to work on still. “It was a good fitness camp. Finally after a year or two, we got a month off. It was good for us to come back and do a fitness camp. It was much needed because we are going to have a hectic eight months, so we have to get our body prepared for the grind,” Mandhana said after receiving the Arjuna Award on Tuesday, Sportstar reported.

22-year-old Mandhana is only the second Indian woman to win an International Cricket Council award, fast bowler Jhulan Goswami being the first one, who was named women’s player of the year in 2007.

On her own batting, she said, “You have to improve because other teams are also keeping an eye on you. Adding new shots is not something which I am looking for, I am looking to consistently hit the same length of balls in different places,” said Mandhana, who is prepping for another season in the Kia Super League to be held in the UK next month.

Smriti Mandhana also made it to the ‘Forbes India 30 Under 30’ list this year, the only cricketer.

The Indian team has not played international cricket since March, is all set to host South Africa in September. The T20 World Cup will be held in Australia from February 21 to March 8 next year.

Congrats and all the best to the feisty player!

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