Smriti Mandhana to miss KIA League final for Western Storm
Smriti Mandhana will miss the KIA final for her side Western Storm (Getty Images)

Western Storm will be without their opener Smriti Mandhana for the final of the KIA Super League on August 27. Defending champions Western Storm, with 30 points from nine matches, are placed second on the KSL points table and will miss having their prolific scorer since Mandhana is scheduled to head back to India to attend a training camp with the national team.

Mandhana has been in golden form for her side and is the leading run-getter of the tournament with 416 runs at an average of 69.33, miles ahead of teammate Heather Knight (272 runs). Mandhana, with two fifties and a century for Storm, has created quite the buzz in the league, having brought up impressive scores of 48, 37, 52 not out, 43 not out, 102, 56 and 49. In fact, during her 19-ball 52* against Loughborough Lightning, Mandhana equalled the record for the fastest half-century in women’s T20.

Despite her absence, Mandhana hopes to see Storm win back-to-back titles.

“I hope Western Storm can defend their title at Hove.” Mandhana said. “They’ve been a very welcoming team and it’s been a great experience. It’s been fantastic to play for Western Storm and I’ve really enjoyed my time here.”

Mandhana’s exploits have won her admirers, including Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara, put out a tweet lauding Mandhana’s performance. Overwhelmed by Sangakkara’s gesture, the 22-year-old arranged a meeting with the former Sri Lanka cricketer and called him her inspiration.

“When I played my first match here, he was commentating,” she told BBC. “I didn’t know that he was here, but when I saw his tweet for me, I got to know. I’ve idolised him for the longest time now, and whenever I am not in good form or not in good touch, I try to watch his videos so that I get a bit of confidence and see his head position.”

Mandhana also appeared on a segment with former India captain Sourav Ganguly in one of the rain intervals during the second Test between India and England at Lord’s. Mandhana has played 41 ODIs and two Tests for India in which she has scored 1545 runs with three hundreds and 11 half-centuries. In 41 T20Is for India, Mandhana boasts a strike-rate of 113 and has compiled 857 runs with five half-centuries.