She grew up shattering a lot of window-panes while playing gully cricket in her locality. She soon found her love for pace bowling and started idolising Zaheer Khan. This left-arm pacer started making headlines after her 9 wicket-haul in a One Day domestic game against Haryana which Komal Zanzad feels became a turning point in her career. Komal's back to back impressive performance for Vidarbha and for India Blue in Women's Challengers Trophy in January earlier this year was rewarded after she earned a place in the Board's President XI side to play practice games against England Women. This 27 year old pacer has shown tremendous character against some of the tough domestic sides including Punjab and Andhra.
Komal Zanzad, in an EXCLUSIVE interview with Female Cricket talks about her cricket journey, what motivated her to take up the sport and finally leaves a piece of advice for budding cricketers.
1. What was your first interaction with cricket like?
I used to watch boys playing cricket in my colony and that's when I started liking the game. It was only because of them, I got introduced to this game.
2. Walk us through your initial (childhood) cricket days? Any gully cricket moment that you remember?
There are many. We have shattered so many window-panes and the glasses while playing gully cricket. The moment we found ourselves in trouble, we immediately ran away from the spot.
3. How did you manage your education and other commitments alongside cricket? Did you enjoy studying?
Me and my studies were always distance apart from each other. I never really enjoyed studying and was so much into sports. But my parents insisted I complete my graduation and so I did. They are the ones who helped me manage both academies and sports.
4. Who were your cricketing role model / inspiration whilst growing up?
Zaheer Khan, without a second thought.
5. When did you realize your love for the game? Were your parents supportive of your decision? Were you always wanted to be a cricketer?
I cannot recall any particular time that made me fall in love with the sport. It was always there, from day one. I always enjoyed bowling rather than batting. Watching the stumps cartwheel and to intimidate batters was a sight I always craved for.
6. Which club and Coach did you start your journey with? Which all club have you represented so far?
I started my cricket at SB City Ground under the guidance of Dalvi sir after that WCL under Baba Rocque Sir and later at the Mujumdar ground.
7. What age did you make your domestic cricket debut? Were you excited with the opportunity or nervous with the expectations from you?
I made my debut for Vidarbha at the age of 15. I was super excited and nervous at the same time.
8. A cricket match you played, still remember and have enjoyed the most?
The match in which I took 9 wickets will always be a special one.
9. How has the journey been so far representing Vidarbha? Highlight some of the high-low moments you’ve witnessed so far?
It's been an amazing journey with Vidarbha Cricket Association. It is more like a family with them. The team-mates, support staff and coaches support you in every possible way.
10. In a year, what all tournaments are available for a domestic player today? How many have you played so far?
Senior One Day, Senior T20, Challengers. I played both the tournament this year. Apart from that, there are U19 and U23 as well.
11. In the recently concluded match between Board President XI and England, you bowled brilliantly taking 3 wickets in 7 overs. What was your preparation like before the start of this tournament?
I practiced really hard at the nets and was in good shape with my bowling during practice sessions. That really helped me gain confidence. So I tried not to experiment much and do whatever my strengths are.
12. Were you expecting a national call, given your performance in the challenger series and Board president XI? How excited were you listening to the news?
Yes, I was expecting a national call but not this early. I knew I had the potential to make it to the national side, but it really came as a big surprise when I was called for the England series. It was such a great feeling.
13. How excited are your parents and family members with the news of you making it to the national side? Has the excitement sunk in?
It was all celebration when my parents got the news. I had never ever seen them this happy.
14. Which is that one area where you wish to improve and work on at a personal level?
Being a fast bowler, it is really crucial to work on your fitness and strengths. That's where I am improving on.
15. Which has been the turning point in your cricket career?
My 9 wicket in a single inning against Haryana in a domestic tournament was the turning point of my career I feel.
16. Any superstition that you follow?
Haha. No, no.
17. With you and Bharti Fulmali earning a national call together shows how great work Vidarbha cricket has been doing to promote women's cricket. Can you throw some light on the structure Vidarbha cricket has and what differentiates it from other cricket board?
Well, I would like to thank Vidarbha Cricket for giving us a coach like Anju ma'am. Her experience and ethics has done wonders and has helped every player a lot. I owe a lot to her.
18. What is your advice to young girls just starting to make their career in cricket?
My advice to young girls would be to work really hard and take up this sport seriously. There are so many opportunities waiting for them.
19. Your views on our “Female Cricket” platform?
It's a great platform that is so passionate about women's cricket. I love the way you guys promote the sport and inspire so many young talents in the country to take up this sport. Keep up the good work.