India's Smriti Mandhana slammed the joint fastest half-century in women's T20 cricket as she propelled Western Storm to a 18-run victory against Loughborough Lightning in a rain-hit match in the Kia Super League in Taunton, on Sunday.
The 22-year-old Indian blasted her way to a 18-ball fifty in a rain-shortened six-over game, to equal the record set by New Zealand's Sophie Devine against India in Bengaluru, in 2015.
Mandhana, who is the first Indian to play in the Kia Super League -- England's premier women's domestic T20 tournament, also bagged the record for the fastest half-century in the tournament.
Mandhana, who was dropped on seven in the first over, made Lightning pay big time for the lapse as she finished unbeaten on a cracking innings of 52 off 19 balls, inclusive four sixes and five sixes, to lift Storm to 85 for two in their six overs.
In reply, Lightning could manage only 67 for no loss in their six overs, despite Devine's quickfire 46 not out from 21 balls.
Sri Lanka batting great Kumar Sangakkara, who was present at the venue and who is one of Mandhana's cricketing idols, praised the Mumbaikar's brilliant knock.
"Watching @mandhana_smriti putting bowlers to the sword here at Taunton. She is brilliant to watch. Great ambassador and great skill," he tweeted.
Incidentally, Mandhana met her inspiration Sangakkara before the game in Taunton and a few hours later, she played one of the most devastating knocks ever witnessed in women's cricket.
"This just made my day. A big fan girl moment for me. Can't express how glad and overwhelmed I am. This memory is going to stay with me forever #blessed #grateful #Legend #thebest," she said in her Instagram post.
Mandhana has admitted that it was Sangakkara who motivated her, and she would always watch his batting videos to pick up things.
“Whenever I feel that I am not batting the way I should, I watch videos of Kumar Sangakkara. I like his batting style. I also admire Ganguly, but it is Sangakkara that I relate to. I haven’t really watched Ganguly bat a lot in my young days, while Sangakkara has been an inspiration,” she told sportstarlive.com last year.