This Amravati girl made her domestic debut for Vidarbha when she was only 13. She didn't do well in the tournament and was dropped the very next year. But that did not stop young Bharti from playing cricket, she was here to stay, after all she idolised MS Dhoni. She was soon picked up and this time left no stone unturned and impressed the selectors with her power-hitting capabilities. U-19, U-23, seniors, zonal; you name it and she has played it all.
In the recently concluded Challenger series 2018-19, Bharti amassed 114 runs in 3 innings, making her the 2nd highest run-scorer of the tournament. But that's not it. Bharti has bigger plans and is working everyday to make them come true. In an interview with Female Cricket, Bharti talks about her cricket journey, her inspiration and leaves us with an advice, something that would help budding female cricketers.
1. What was your first interaction with cricket like?
I remember I was in fourth grade when I started playing with the plastic ball with my father along with the boys of our colony.
2. Walk us through your initial (childhood) cricket days? Any gully cricket moment that you remember?
As I mentioned I used to play gully cricket, one day we were playing the match on the lane. I was batting there and I went for the shot. As soon as I smashed the shot it struck the mirror of the bike. I disappeared from the place when the bike owner came to us. He summoned all the boys and asked who had broken the mirror. Everybody answered that it was the girl who broke the mirror. He wondered and didn’t believe on them. So he actually scolded the boys for the act. Poor boys! (laughs)
3. How did you manage your education and other commitments alongside cricket? Did you enjoy studying?
I completed my graduation in arts but I was never good at studies. My teachers were really supportive and they always encouraged my passion towards the game.
4. Who were your cricketing role model / inspiration whilst growing up?
While growing up I used to watch M.S. Dhoni playing for the country. Surely he has been my idol. For me he is not only a good student of cricket but a nice gentleman. I feel he is the best leader of the game throughout the world. Apart from him, Gautam Gambhir is my favourite batsman.
5. When did you realize your love for the game? Were your parents supportive of your decision?
My father is the one who actually drove me into the sports. I joined the volleyball camp during summer vacations. I learnt chess amidst the school days. I used to get fascinated by watching the boys play cricket. One day my father read an article in a newspaper regarding cricket coaching camp for girls and boys. He took me there and it all began. Nobody was much aware about women’s cricket at that time. Yes, my parents always backed my choices especially my father has been my pillar of strength throughout. I owe them my life.
6. Which club and Coach did you start your journey with? Which all club have you represented so far?
Initially I joined WCA – World Cricket Academy, Amravati managed by Romi Bhinder Sir. I learnt the basics of cricket there. Then I got my further trainings at HVPM – Hanuman Vyayam Prasarak Mandal, Amravati managed by Dinanath Nawathe Sir. Currently I’m practicing at SGCA – Sant Gajanan Cricket Academy, Amravati under the guidance of coach Sandip Gawande Sir.
7. What age did you make your domestic cricket debut? Were you excited with the opportunity or nervous with the expectations from you?
I was 13 years old when I made my domestic cricket debut. As a kid you don’t feel any pressure when you debut for the state team. Basically I was out of that emotion of fear and nervousness. It was nothing but exciting for me.
8. A cricket match you played, still remember and have enjoyed the most?
I remember my first 100 off 114 balls against Rajasthan during U-23 tournament at Kanpur. I captained the team Vidarbha in that tournament. It is indeed special for me.
9. You are seen as one of the promising talents from Vidarbha. How has the journey been so far? Highlight some of the high-low moments you’ve witnessed so far?
My journey began with representing Vidarbha U-19 in 2008. But in the very next year I was dropped out of the team. In 2010, I made a comeback and performed quite well. We won zonal championship and qualified for all India level in that year. Our team performances also evolved under the coaching of Prashant Pandit Sir and Anju Jain Ma’m. I would say I have always been very competitive. Things were so tough that you had to outperform everyone else to make a mark. So that passion and obsession about winning came from there. There were times when I had my downfalls. But I learnt to accept the failures and successes as a part of the process.
10. In a year, what all tournaments are available for a domestic player today? How many have you played so far?
Domestic player has few tournaments in a year like U-19, U-23, Seniors at state levels and at zonals in one day and T-20 formats. Challenger’s trophy is one of those formats where you can showcase your talent at the next level. I have played all of the tournaments.
11. In the recently concluded challenger series, you were the 2nd highest run scorer with 114 runs in 3 innings with a SR of 61.97. What was your preparation like before the start of this tournament?
Well, I could have done better. There’s always a scope for improvement as a batsman. In the past year VCA – Vidarbha Cricket Association conducted training camps quite frequently. We had some good practice matches against Baroda and Bengal held at Baroda before the conclusion of senior women’s one day tournament. I had some decent performances including three fifties in seven innings in senior women’s one day tournament held at Vijayawada.
12. What are key learnings from this challenger series that you want to implement going ahead in future games?
I got to perform under pressure situations. It helped me to weave my innings as per the match situation. Particularly in low scoring games you have to fight until the last moment. Such games can flip the results you never know.
13. A player you enjoyed batting with? Also tell a bowler you enjoyed batting against? And why?
I enjoyed batting with Mona Meshram in my early days. We had many fruitful partnerships together. I remember we had a partnership of 200 runs against Hyderabad in U-19 knockouts at Pune.
I don’t look at the bowler whilst playing the match. I just try to play according to the merit of the ball.
Also Read : Interview with Mona Meshram
14. Which is that one area where you wish to improve and work on at a personal level?
I’m working on to develop a quiet mind. They say calm, quiet mind with mind body balance allows you as a cricketer to enter your zone state of optimal performance.
15. Which has been the turning point in your cricket career?
I think when I scored my first century I realized that I can score big runs. That was the much needed boost for me. Also it completely changed my perception towards the game of cricket.
16. Any superstition that you follow?
I always wear my wrist watch before getting into the field. I have broken few watches until now.
17. How eager are you to make your national debut? When do you think would that happen?
Of course I’m looking forward to it. It has been my ultimate goal to play for the national side. Honestly, I don’t stress much on that thought. I just want to make the most of whatever opportunities I have right now. If everything goes well, things will eventually fall in right place.
18. What is your advice to young girls just starting to make their career in cricket?
To all the young girls out there who wish to be a cricketer, I would say believe in yourself, work hard towards your goal, don’t give up and fall in love with the process.
19. Your views on our “Female Cricket” platform?
Firstly, thank you for interviewing me. You are doing wonderful job by promoting women’s cricket, their inherent talent and hard work. You are endorsing the idea of equality in sports. Keep supporting us!