Smriti Mandhana, the India opener, made cricketing history this week by becoming the sport's most expensive player. The India team's mascot is profiled by sportswriter Annesha Ghosh.
It's difficult to tell if Smriti Mandhana's teammates or a group of her fervent supporters were cheering when they saw the 26-year-old batter on Monday.
The excitement surrounding the first-ever women's cricket event of its kind, a player auction for the first Women's Premier League (WPL), is evident in the video clip.
In the video, members of the Indian T20 World Cup team in South Africa yell, whistle, and cheer as the Mandhana bidding war plays out on a big screen at a watch party at the team's hotel.
Mandhana, the first player to be put up for bid, quickly surpasses all previous purchases to become the most expensive in the Twenty20 league. She was acquired by Royal Challengers Bangalore for a staggering $413,000 (£340,000) following a tense duel with Mumbai Indians.
She will almost certainly serve as the team's captain during the five-side, 23-day competition, which gets underway on March 4 in Mumbai.
"My son Smriti and I had a casual discussion about the WPL auction at our house before departing for South Africa. The batter's father Shriniwas Mandhana told the BBC, "We predicted she would draw the highest bid.
"I am a proud father, not only because I correctly predicted her outcome but also because I got to watch her go where no woman has gone before. Her name, that bid—all of it is historic. ".
Mandhana's current position at the top of the women's cricket royalty list is largely attributable to the foundation Shriniwas gave his daughter in the sport.
Cricket entered the lives of Mandhana and her older brother Shravan because of his passion for the game.
Shriniwas did not, however, stop there. He convinced both of his naturally right-handed children to switch to left-handed batting in order to give them the best chance of playing cricket for India.
According to Shriniwas, a textile businessman, "Being a lefty gives anyone an edge in cricket, but even more so if you are from a country like India where the competition is so huge.".
"Looking back, I can only be happy that I made that choice because her batting has propelled her to where she is. ".
Mandhana, who bats first for India, has a total of 6,049 runs from 193 appearances in the three different international competitions, including five one-day international hundreds and a Test century.
"Her batting combines power, grace, and style. She consistently repels various bowling attacks. Mamatha Maben, a former cricket player, claims that she is also a good student of the game.
Mandhana is a well-known name in franchise cricket, having participated in the Kia Super League, the UK's The Hundred, and Australia's Women's Big Bash League.
Mandhana began playing cricket when she was around six years old, and since her teen years, she has accomplished many career milestones.
She was widely regarded as a prodigy when, at the age of 17, while playing for Maharashtra in under-19 cricket, she became the first Indian woman to score a double century. She famously accomplished the feat using a bat that Rahul Dravid, a former under-19 cricket player for India, had given to her brother.
She had played against Bangladesh in India earlier in the year for her first limited-overs international debut. Mandhana has continued to develop steadily, driven by a desire to become a recognized cricket player.
Anant Tambwekar, a former cricketer who played at the university level in India and for minor counties in the UK before switching to coaching, said of her, "She was a very obedient student when she first came to me.
Since her father brought Mandhana to him when she was 12 years old, he has worked with her. He had previously only served as Shravan's district coach in Sangli, a small town in the Maharashtra region of western India that is also home to the Mandhana family and Tambwekar.
She places her cricket and the discipline needed to succeed and then maintain that success at the forefront and center of her life, he said, despite everything she has accomplished in the past years and at such a young age.
That is what will fuel her career's next phase as women's cricket gains more attention. ".
Indeed, Mandhana has achieved a lot over the course of her ten-year international career. This is especially true after the 2017 ODI World Cup in England, where she played a crucial part in India's successful campaign that ended with a runners-up finish.
Then, for the first time in T20s, she topped the ICC Rankings in February 2019.
She is the only woman to have received the ICC Women's Cricketer of the Year award more than once, the other being Australia all-rounder Ellyse Perry, with whom she will share a dressing room during the WPL.
At the age of 22, when she was also named the ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year, she accomplished the feat for the first time, and then again in 2021.
She dominated the run charts in T20s among players from full member nations last year, scoring 594 runs in 21 innings, and she was selected for both the ICC ODI and T20 Teams of the Year.
Her impressive 2022 run culminated with a Player-of-the-Match-winning 32-ball 61 against the hosts England in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games semifinal, where India won the silver medal.
Her other standout performances from the previous year included an unbeaten 50 in the Asia Cup final during India's triumphant campaign and a heart-pounding 79 in the second T20 match against Australia in Navi Mumbai.
India participated in a super over for the first time in that match, which presented a difficult challenge against the current world champions but which India overcame thanks to Mandhana's ever-evolving fearless big hitting.
Her stock has increased significantly over the past six years both on and off the field.
Mandhana now has brand associations with well-known customers like Red Bull and Nike and has appeared in commercials alongside Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh and cricket legend MS Dhoni.
She is one of India's most well-known female athletes on social media, with a combined following of nearly 15 million users across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Mandhana may go on to become the first superstar female cricketer in Indian history if the exorbitant WPL price tag is taken into account.
According to sports journalist Sharda Ugra, "She's a different kind of Indian cricket star -- she's stylish in her game and charming and approachable as a person.".
She serves as a reminder that cricket is still enjoyable and is played with joy, which is sometimes lacking when the lads play. " .
Sports author Annesha Ghosh works on her own.