Arjuna, in Indian mythology, was known for his aim and his famous reply to Guru Dronacharya. In our times, the Arjuna Award is given to icons who have registered achievements against their name in the field of sports. The ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports gives the prestigious once in a lifetime opportunity to individuals who contribute to respective games and bring laurels to Indian soil.
Shantha Rangaswamy – 1976
Women’s Cricket in India has been blessed with numerous such icons and consequently, there are many Arjuna Awards for female cricketers in India. Shanta Rangaswamy was the women cricketer to be awarded Arjuna Award in the year 1976. It is astonishing to hear women cricketer earning a name for herself before Kapil Dev got India closer to cricket in 1983.
Diana Edulji – 1983
More interesting and warming is the fact that she was also the first female recipient of the prestigious award. Next in line was the year 1983. It was not only Kapil Dev and his side that was making a mark on the cricket field. The Indian veteran, as we know her now, was awarded the prestigious Arjuna Award. Diana Edulji is not a new name for cricket fans and is rightfully called the best Indian Women Cricketer. She holds the record for bowling most number of balls in test matches. Her legacy is still strong for the current generation of players. She was later given the Padma Award by the Indian government in 2002.
Shubhangi Kulkarni – 1985
Shubhangi Kulkarni was given the award in 1985. Apart from exploits on the field, she has served the game tremendously as an administrator. She was the Secretary of Women’s Cricket Association of India when the organization was finally merged into BCCI.
Sandhya Agarwal – 1986
Next year, Sandhya Agarwal got the Arjuna Award. She received the award in 1986. In her career of 13 matches in test cricket, she scored with a mind-boggling average of 50. She amassed a total of 1110 runs in the longest format. After a decade of emptiness, the next female cricketer to hold the prestigious award was none other than Mithali Raj.
Mithali Raj – 2003
She is the ambassador of women’s cricket in a true sense and there is no exaggeration in believing that she took the game to the masses. She received her award in 2003 from India’s beloved President Abdul Kalam.
Anju Jain – 2005
Two years later, Anju Jain made it to the list. She got the award in 2005. Anju led the Indian side to semifinals of the Cricket World Cup in 2000. She continued to serve the game with the new role as a coach. She has even coached the National side of Bangladesh.
Anjum Chopra – 2007
Anjum Chopra got the award in 2007. She has made her away to the top by fighting the hurdles of patriarchal society. She is, truly, the face of women’s cricket in India. She has made her mark not only in cricket but also in the commentary box as well.
Jhulan Goswami – 2010
India’s premier pacer was next in line as she bagged the award in 2010. Jhulan Goswami is, undoubtedly, one of the best pacers to have played cricket for India. She is one of the top wicket-takers in one-day International cricket and has opted out of the shortest format to concentrate on ODIs.
Harmanpreet Kaur – 2017
Harmanpreet Kaur received Arjuna Award in 2017. She is the skipper of the Indian side in the shortest format of the game. She is the first female cricketer from India to score a century.
Smriti Mandhana – 2018
A year later, Smriti Mandhana was awarded the Arjuna Award. The year 2018 was great for Indian batter as not only she got the Arjuna Award but was also given the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Award for the best female cricketer of the year.
Poonam Yadav – 2019
In 2019, it was the magic spinner that got the Arjuna Award in 2019. Interestingly, while receiving the award, she became the first female from Uttar Pradesh to get the prestigious award. It is interesting to note that Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state of India and Arjuna Awards are being given from the year 1961.
Deepti Sharma – 2020
Deepti Sharma got her award this year amidst the pandemic with a virtual meet with the Honourable President. She is ranked as one of the best all-rounders and has the record of the third-highest individual score in ODIs. These women have been an inspiration for society in ways that are not single to comprehend. They have been taking the game forward in a literal sense and it’s heartening to see the award as an acknowledgment of the same sweat.
A student who enjoys studying cricket more than anything else, keen to learn the insights of the women’s game.