She left home at the age of 12 to pursue her dream of playing professional cricket. She moved from one state to the other till the time she found solace from a cricketing standpoint. Coming up the ranks, she made her India debut at just 20 years of age. Currently, she represents Indian Railways and has been a part of the outfit since 2015.
There is not even an iota of doubt that this talented all-rounder is an inspiration to the upcoming and budding women cricketers. We are talking about Sneh Rana, who graced the Female Cricket feature Cricket with Queens, before the outbreak of COVID-19. During the episode, Female Cricket’s Vishal Yadav engaged in a heartfelt tête-à-tête with the 26-year old cricketer from Dehradun.
Excerpts from the interview
1. When did you start playing cricket?
I started playing cricket since my childhood. I used to play gully cricket with the boys in my area. In my school as well I played alongside boys. I used to be the only girl among the bunch of boys.
By the time I was nine years old, I joined a cricket coaching academy in Dehradun. The academy was quite far from my home. I used to cycle 9 km every day to reach the academy.
2. Tell us more about the cricket academy that you joined in Dehradun.
I was nine years old when I joined the Little Master Cricket Club in Dehradun. At that time it so happened that the club officials and coaches had organized a cricket tournament for boys in my home town. Out of curiosity, I went there, where matches were being played. After the tournament, the boys, who knew me, since we played together, told the Little Master Cricket Club officials that there is a girl who plays good cricket. Back then, I was too shy to come in front of them and I was comfortably hiding behind a tree (smiles). As soon as I was called, I appeared in front of the coaches and officials. I was asked to bat and bowl. They liked my game and picked me up for their academy. My coaches in the Little Master Cricket Club not only trained me to play good cricket but also supported me financially.
3. You won the player of the series in the first-ever cricket tournament that you played. Tell us about that.
I played my first ever cricket tournament in Allahabad. The competition attracted a huge crowd and I was excited to play in front of them and showcase my game. Being my first tournament, I was pepped up and rearing to go. I was full of energy and I remember I threw myself all around the ground. I was just 10 years old then and I think it was my passion and love for the game that helped me perform exceptionally well and bag the coveted award.
4. In your quest to play domestic cricket, you moved from Dehradun to Haryana to Punjab. How difficult was it for you to move from one state to the other?
Since the day I joined the cricket academy in Dehradun I dreamt of playing for India. I knew I had to fight hard to achieve my dream. Back then in Uttarakhand, we did not have a state cricket association. So it was difficult for players like me to play cricket at a higher level. My coaches empathized with me and tried for different states where I could get a chance to play cricket. The first call that I received was from Haryana.
I was around 12-13 years old when I moved from Dehradun to Haryana. After spending some time there I realized that I was getting limited opportunities. I communicated this to my coaches in Dehradun. They again tried to get me in a different state. Their efforts bore fruits as I got the second call from Punjab. In Punjab luckily I received a lot of chances to hone my game. I was happy there and I decided to continue playing cricket in Punjab. I completed my 12th from Dehradun and my graduation from Amritsar. Prior to my graduation I was managing academics in Dehradun and cricket in Punjab. I was literally going up and down from Dehradun to Amritsar. It was quite daunting but today I feel that my efforts and struggle back then paid off.
5. You made your India debut in 2014 against Sri Lanka. How did you feel when you got the India call?
I vividly remember that day. I was traveling back home and on that particular day, the India team was supposed to be announced. Banking on my stellar domestic season, I was expecting an India call. Out of excitement, I browsed on my phone to check whether my name is there on the list. To my dismay, it wasn’t. I was dejected. With heavy steps, I entered my house and settled. Soon my phone beeped. I received a congratulatory message from a friend in Hyderabad. I did not understand why she sent me that message. I texted her back saying that I was not picked. She immediately called me and broke the news of my selection. My joy knew no bounds!
6. You started playing for Indian Railways since 2015. How has the experience been?
I feel lucky to have got a chance to play for Indian Railways at such a young age. I was just 21 when I was picked up in the team. The experience has been amazing as you mostly have Indian players playing alongside you. You learn a lot from these players, both, on-the-field and off-the-field. Sharing the dressing room with them and rubbing shoulders with these legends feels great.
7. If you are not playing cricket, how does your day look like?
If I am at home in Dehradun, I spend time with my family. I love being at home. If I am in Amritsar then I usually go out for movies. If I am somewhere else I like to roam around, visit new places, go for trekking, etc.
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I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.