Smriti Mandhana, Virat Kohli and the story of a bad patch

Outcomes on the field depend far more on the mental state of the player than on the level of skill or that unquantifiable thing we call form.

I love watching Smriti Mandhana bat.

It’s not just the strokes, it is the little quirks that endear a player to you. Harmanpreet Kaur, for instance, does this thing where, as the bowler is running in, she bounces lightly like a Slinky-toy someone poked with a finger, then goes totally still as the bowler loads up. Just before settling into her stance, Jemimah Rodrigues stares intently at the handle of her upraised bat, as if reading the instructions inscribed there.

Mandhana’s most notable feature is her smile. Initially, I used to think it was a rictus, a grimace of effort; …


Prem Panicker

Prem Panicker has been a journalist for over 30 years. From daily newspapers to weekly magazines and digital news portals—he was one of the seven journalists who were part of the start-up team—he has written and edited features extensively across mediums and publications. Since quitting his job at Yahoo in 2014, he has been working as a freelance writer and editor, as well as teaching narrative journalism.