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Interview with Shubhlakshmi Sharma - Only female cricketer from Jharkhand in National Team

1. What age did you start playing cricket? Walk us through your initial cricket days?
When I was 15, I used to play with my brothers in my locality just for fun, nothing serious.

2. Any siblings (brother-sisters)? If yes, were they equally interested in Cricket?

My brothers, both of them were very supportive and one of the main reason behind me being a cricketer.

3. Who were your cricket role model / inspiration whilst growing up?

Brett Lee. His attitude, aggression inspired me. I always wanted to bowl like him.

4. How did you cope up with your studies / education / other commitments along with cricket?

It was very tough to continue both studies and cricket together but somehow I managed with the help of my sisters, classmates and teachers. I am very grateful to them.

5. When did you realize that you have to become a cricketer and play for Team India?

Cricket was one of the game I used to play along with other sports. I represented Jharkhand in Volleyball and badminton as well. But when I started doing well in Cricket and got selected to play for the zone, I realized what exactly I want.

6. You have played in all 3 formats: 10 ODIs, 1 Test and 18 T20I. Which format have you enjoyed the most?

Playing for the nation in itself a huge honour and pride; no matter whichever format you are playing but if I have to choose one I would say the test cap.

7. When and how did you come to know about your selection in the national ODI team? Could you recall the moment and describe it in words?

I was in the national camp when I got the news about my selection in the national team. Some feelings cannot be expressed in words and it is one of those moments. It was a cloud nine feeling.

8. How special was your debut T20 Match against West Indies women on Feb 23, 2012. You were economical and also bagged a wicket of Britney Cooper.

I was nervous as any other debutantes. First match that was against west indies, big hitters in the team. But when I got the ball, nervousness somehow vanished and I was lucky that I bowled well and got a wicket too.

9. You were born in Hazaribagh, Bihar and probably is the only cricketer from state. Later played domestic cricket for Jharkhand. What was the general perception about women’s cricket in both these states back then? Has it changed now?

At that time cricket was not at all popular among girls, specially in places like Bihar and Jharkhand. According to them, any kind of sport was not suitable for girls. But the scenario has completely changed now. Girls are taking up cricket as their profession.

10. How happy were your family members and friends knowing that you are representing the national team at just age of 22?
They were very excited and happy because a girl from a small town like hazaribagh has made it to the Indian team. Good wishes were pouring from my relatives and friends from all over the country.

11. Tell us about your coaches who has helped you in your early cricket days. Which club did you play for?
There were many coaches who have inspired and encouraged me to play cricket. I am very thankful to them because in a small town like Hazaribagh generally, you don't get all the modern facilities and equipments but at that time they have provided me, with whatever was possible for them. I started playing for my district.

12. Your excellent performance in the domestic for Jharkhand earned you a job in Eastern Railways.But you rejected the job.What happened?

Railways has always recognized talent and given jobs to sports personality. I am one of the lucky people who got a job in Eastern Railway. I did not reject it but kept on hold due to my exams and joined after few months.

13. You made a comeback after being dropped from the Jharkhand state team.How was the feeling?

It's always great when you make a comeback. so I was very happy and determined to do well in the upcoming matches.

14. You went on to represent India in 2 T20 and 1 ODI world cup. Tell us about the World Cup experience. Are you satisfied or hungry for more?

It was a great experience playing in these 3 world cups but our performance was not up to the mark. We could have done better. Yes the hunger is there to do well and win the world cup for the team. I believe there is no place for satisfaction in a sportsperson life.

15. How does it feel to be the 2nd fastest bowler of India only after legend Jhulan Goswami?
She is a great player probably the best not only in India but in the world cricket today. It is a huge honour and responsibility to be the second fastest bowler. The expectations are always high. You have to perform every time you step on the field.

16. Only 27 right now, you have plenty of years left in your career. How do you wish to utilize the remaining years?
The first and foremost thing is to comeback in the national side and perform for the team. I want to do well in almost every match that I play.

Interview with Shubhlakshmi Sharma - Only female cricketer from Jharkhand in National Team

17. What would be your message to all the female cricket aspirants?

I want to keep it short and simple - "Dream and make it happen."

18. Your views on Female Cricket as a platform?
I am very happy to see that Female Cricket has come up with such a great idea to promote women's cricket. A platform like this was very much required. So All the best to Female Cricket team. Carry on and I hope to see many more initiatives like this.

Cash Prizes and Rewards awarded to India’s Women Cricket Team for their performance in the WWC 2017

Cash Prizes and Rewards awarded to India’s Women Cricket Team for their performance in the WWC 2017

1. Cash Prizes by BCCI (22 July 2017)
BCCI was the first organisation to acknowledge the brilliant performance of India’s Women Cricket team in ICC WWC 2017 and thus announced cash prize of Rs 50 lakh for each player of 15-member squad of Indian team. Also, Rs 25 lakh was awarded to each one of the supporting staff of the team.

2. Captain Mithali Raj, V. Captain Harmanpreet Kaur and Punam Raut felicitated in Delhi (27th July 2017)
Former Union Minister for Sports, Vijay Goel praised M.Raj and her team for performing exceedingly well in the WWC 2017. Along with team members; the coaches, team managers and supporting staff were also felicitated by the then sports minister.

3. Telangana government announced rewards for Raj and her coach (28th July 2017)
Mithali Raj awarded cash prize of Rs 1 crore and a 600 sq. yards house plot in a posh area of Telangana. Also, Rs 25 lakh cash prize was announced for Raj’s coach RSR Murthy.

4. Maharashtra govt felicilates three players from its state (28th July 2017)
Devendra Fadnavis led Maharashtra government announced to award Smriti Mandhana, Mona Meshram and Punam Raut, the three team players from Maharashtra with a cash prize of Rs 50 lakh each for their sterling performances.

5. BMW car for Mithali Raj (1st August 2017)
Telangana Badminton Association Vice President V. Chamundeswaranath presented a BMW car to Raj, as promised earlier, to the cricketer for breaking the world record for most one-day runs.

Also Read: How a small town girl Rajeshwari Gayakwad became the daughter of Bijapur

6. Shikha Pandey felicitated (1st August 2017)
Flight Lt Shikha Pandey was awarded The Chief of the air staff commendation by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa for her performance as a member of Indian Women's Cricket team. Also, the IAF lauded her achievemnt by saying that she first lady officer from the services to represent Indian Cricket team.

7. Cash prize for Harmanpreet Kaur (2nd August 2017)
Punjab CM Amrinder Singh presented a cheque of Rs five lakh to the powerhouse of Indian Cricket team, Harmanpreet Kaur for her spectacular show in the mega event.

8. Video Analyst Aarti Nalge felicitated along with Mithali Raj (6th August 2017)
Hyderabad Cricket Association awarded Mithali Raj, a cheque of Rs five lakh at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium. Raj’s coach RSR Murthy and Indian team’s video Analyst Aarti Nalga were also honoured in the same event.

9. Veda Krishnamurthy and Rajeshwari Gayakwad honoured (9th August 2017)
Karnataka State Cricket Association felicitated V.Krishnamurthy and R.Gayakwad for their crucial contribution in Team India’s sensational run to the finals of WWC by presenting each one of them, a cheque of Rs five lakh, a silver memento, shawl and a Mysore Peta.

10. Mansi Joshi and Ekta Bisht felicitated by Uttrakhand government
On the National Sports Day, Mansi Joshi and Ekta Bisht were given five lakh rupees each, by their state government as the cash prizes for their valuable role in the team. Also, Joshi was felicitated by her school in Roorkee in a separate event.]

Also Read: Book on Women Cricketer to be out soon

11. Prestigious Arjuna Award for Kaur (29th August 2017)
Harmanpreet Kaur received one of the most prestigious award in sports i.e. Arjuna Award from honourable President of India. After BCCI recommended her name for the same,expressing her excitement she said that she never thought of getting Arjuna Award but receiving it is a dream for every sportsperson.

12. Redi Go for Harmanpreet Kaur (31st August 2017)
Last but not the least, Datsun India honoured Harmanpreet Kaur with a Redi Go car for her exemplary show in the world cup.

Stay tuned for more. 

Interview with Rajeshwari Gayakwad

Interview with Rajeshwari Gayakwad

1. Describe the day 23rd July 2017. How was the feeling before and after the World Cup match? Did you sleep that night?
On 23rd July, we all were excited and it was a proud moment for all of us. We all played well but lost to the host with a small margin of 9 runs. We were in winning position until 200 runs. Due to quickly losing wickets, we lost final match. Winning and losing are a part of the game. On the 23rd night, we did not sleep and our dressing room had pin drop silence. Our coach Sir (Tushar Arothe) entered the room with a smile on his face and tried to motivate us. He told us,"you all have played well in World Cup 2017 and don't worry about losing this match". It gave us some sort of motivation.

Before world cup, people didn't know much about Indian Women's team except few players like Mithali Di, Julan Di, and few others. We received a grand welcome at Mumbai Airport. BCCI felicitated us on the same day. Our Central Sports Minister felicitated all of us. And the unforgettable moment in my life was meeting our Honorable Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi ji at his Dehli residence.

On the day when I reached Bangalore (my home state), I received a grand welcome from my family, friends, and fans. All leading news channel and reporters were waiting for me to know my experience from World Cup. I didn't expect it before I reached Bengaluru. Now wherever I go, people stop me to take selfies and autographs.

2. You were rested for first few matches but were given an opportunity against New Zealand (your debut world cup match). You grabbed 5 wickets giving just 15 runs, which eventually became your career best bowling figures. What was going through your mind?

I was certain that I will get the chance in a crucial match as I did not get the chance to play in first 5 matches. The match against New Zealand was very crucial for us to qualify for Semifinal. I felt very happy after I got to know that I was playing in this match. Yes, this was my World cup debut match. I focused on my line and length and took 5 wickets. This is my first 5 wicket haul in a one day match and best performance (7.3 Overs, 1 Maiden, 15 runs and 5 wickets). I was able to achieve this because I did not pressurize myself and captain's confidence in me was immense. I later dedicated this performance to my late father.

3. How was it like playing FINALS of a World Cup match at Lords Stadium? Can it get any better than this?

It was an amazing feeling of playing final match it iconic Lords Stadium. It was a dream come true moment to play at Lords. It was the first time we were playing in front of such a huge crowd of 24K (approximately). We could not even hear each other due to the noise.

4. How does it feel to be the first girl from Bijapur to make it to the national team? How was the response when you reached your home town? Did you expect that much attention?
I was told cricket is not a girl's game. But my father supported me to become a professional cricketer. I received an unexpected grand welcome at my native place Vijayapur (Bijapur). They call me as the daughter of Bijapur. To appreciate my performance, Patil Honda has gifted me a Honda Activa scooter and our city MLA Mr. M.B. Patil sir has announced to gift me a power steering car worth 5 lakh on 15th August. I am excited to receive my gifts. Bijapur Women's University, where I studied and local authorities have also invited me as their chief guest.

5. How old were you when you started playing cricket? Walk us through your initial cricket days?

I started playing professional cricket at the age of 16. Before that, I used to play Gully cricket with my father and brothers. My father loved cricket very much and used to play. One day my father came to know that Bijapur Women's Cricket Club was conducting free training camp for girls. He discussed with the club members and took me and my younger sister Rameshwari to Ambedkar Cricket Ground. On that day, around 200 interested girls turned up for selection. My sister Rameshwari and I got selected for free coaching. It was a happy moment for both of us. This was the beginning of my professional cricket career.

6. Your sister Rameshwari Gayakwad is one of the emerging cricketers from Karnataka. How has she contributed to your cricket success?

Yes, she is playing for Karnataka Women's team. She has also represented India Green team. She is right-hand bowler and batsman. Rameshwari and I used to reach stadium at 5 am everyday. We both started early morning practices even before our coach turned up at the nets. This was helping to practice more than others which helped me improve my bowling day by day. Rajeshwari is also a good friend and a lovely sister.

7. Who were your cricket role model/inspiration whilst growing up?

My role model is Ravindra Jadeja and my inspiration is my Father.

8. How was women’s cricket perceived in Bijapur when you started playing 6-8 years ago? Has it changed now?

When I started playing cricket, there were not too many people aware of women's cricket. They thought that we are playing cricket for fun. Since last few years, people here in Bijapur city have started watching and following women's cricket. This is a good sign for the growth of women's cricket in Bijapur.

9. Javelin and discus thrower; also a volleyball player in early days. When did you realize that you have to take up cricket seriously and play for Team India?
I used to play Javelin and discus throw; Kho-Kho and volleyball in school days. Whenever I saw someone playing cricket, I too felt like playing. I used to wonder how fast bowlers were running and delivering those quicker-ones. When I joined cricket club and got selected for Karnataka Women's team after few years, I realized my potential and that I can continue cricket and play for Team India.

10. When and how did you come to know about your selection in the national ODI team against Sri Lanka series? Could you recall the moment and describe it in words?
My coach Kalpana Ma'am called me and told me that I was selected for India Women's team. I did not believe her for a moment. I started jumping with joy and happiness. I was on cloud nine. I called up my dad and told him that I was selected for the national team. He was very happy and advised me to practice more before the matches. I started getting calls from friends, coaches and well wishers to congratulate me. Some newspapers had also contacted me to cover my journey. 

11. You have played in all 3 formats: 30 ODIs, 1 Test and 13 T20I. Which format have you enjoyed the most and why?
I enjoyed bowling in nets. I used to bowl 30-35 overs continuously. I enjoyed Test format the most since in Test matches a bowler can ball "n" number of overs. It will reflect the true potential of any bowler. So far, I have played only one test match against New-Zealand team. However, I enjoyed ODI's and T20 as well.

12. How special was your debut ODI Match against Sri Lanka women on Jan 19, 2014. You took 2 wickets in your debut game.

I was very confident while playing my first match against Sri-Lanka. Normally, I don't take pressure. This helps me focus in my bowling line and length. In this match, I did the same thing. Yes, it was a debut match but I played my game and I took 2 wickets in that match. I bowled 7.3 over, 3 maidens and gave 11 runs. My first international wicket was of SS Weerakkody's.

13. Take us through the difficult times you and your family has been through in your early years of cricket given limited resources in hand.

I come from a poor family. My father was a teacher in Government Primary school. When I got selected for Karnataka Team, I did not have white trouser and white T-shirt. My father bought a second-hand trouser and got it altered. I managed my school white shirt instead of white T-shirt. Whenever I recall those struggle days, I am bound to cry, tears they come automatically. I faced a lot of financial problems. My biggest loss in my life was my father's death. That was the most difficult moment of my life. Before that my father used to take care of all my needs. My father taught me how to manage situations in limited resources and it is helping me in life and cricket.

14. It is said that Basavaraj Ijeri, the head of the women’s wing at the cricket facility setup at the Ambedkar ground in Bijapur spotted your talent. Who else has contributed to your success?

Yes, Basavaraj Ijeri Sir was head of Bijapur Women's Cricket Club. Apart from Basavaraj Ijeri Sir, Ashok Jadhav Sir, Saleem T T Sir, Shridhar Joshi Sir, Kalal Sir and AG Patel Sir were the key persons of the club and they have taught me the basics of Cricket which is helping me through out my cricket career. I started playing cricket as a medium fast bowler. That time my idol was Zahir Khan. But due to my height and lack of strength, I was unable to maintain the pace and line. Then Ashok Jadhav Sir advised me to learn spin bowling. I felt bad for that day, but my father convinced me to follow my coach instructions. It was a complete change in my game. After I got selected in Karnataka Women's team and got guidance of Kalpana Venkatacharya madam, Shantha Rangswamy madam, and Gayathri Madam, my professional cricket improved drastically. I am grateful to have them as my coaches. Apart from the coaches, my two best friends Rakshitha (Karnataka Women's Team captain) and Vandana (Karnataka Women's player) have helped me a lot. I am lucky to have friends like these.

15. Sports run deep in Gayakwad family and your dad has been the best inspiration for family members. Do you miss him?

My dad was a good cricketer and a Yoga teacher. My elder sister Bhuvaneshwari represented State Hockey team. My younger brother Kashinath is a professional Tabla player and has won 3 state awards. One more younger brother Vishwanath is a Badminton player. I always miss my father. I  miss him every day, every minute, every moment.

16. Given the tremendous performance by our Indian team at the World Cup, the limelight has shifted towards us. People have started talking about women’s cricket in India. What do you feel should be done next?

You are right! Before World Cup, not too many people knew us. After the performance at the World cup, wherever we go people are recognizing us, talking to us, following us and trying to take selfies which is motivating us to perform better and better in every match I play. I'm sure other players are feeling the same.

17. Your thoughts on our platform – Female Cricket?

The platform is good. My humble request to BCCI would be to start Women's IPL so that other players can also get the opportunity.

Interview with Ar. Mukta - A Cricketer turned Author

Interview with Ar. Mukta - A Cricketer turned Author

1. What age did you start playing cricket? What was your first interaction with cricket like?

Cricket was always on my mind. I used to play cricket with my brothers on the streets. I started playing cricket when I was in 7th standard.

2. Walk us through your initial (childhood) cricket days? Any gully cricket moment that you remember?
I used to play cricket with boys in my early childhood days. That time we played with wooden small bat and rubber ball. I remember an incident, when I was fielding and my brother hit the ball so hard; I was about to catch the ball, but fell down and injured myself badly.

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