In a country where every other person dreams of donning the blue jersey, hearing their name reverberate, standing tall and looking at the national flag blazing high, and walking out on the 22 Yards, is much more than just a dream. It is a life, everyone desires to live. This Dehradun born star, Neelam Bisht, a right-handed batter who started weaving her story in the backyards of her home with the rubber ball. At a very young age of 12 years, she was selected to play for the state of Haryana and then there was no looking back from there on! Idolizing Sourav Ganguly and Harmanpreet Kaur is all set to become an idol to millions herself. Majorly playing for the Punjab national team, Bisht is all set to make her India debut real soon!
TEAM FEMALE CRICKET brings to you this heart-warming story of a champion already and a legend in the making, In an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, Neelam Bisht takes us through her life story, cricket and how she is all set to don the blue!
1. What was your first interaction with cricket like?
I played cricket at home with the boys and at home I usually played cricket with my uncle.
2. Walk us through your initial (childhood) cricket days? Any gully cricket moment that you remember?
I remember we used to play with rubber ball in our backyard with the boys. It used to be a lot of fun.
3. How did you manage your education and other commitments alongside cricket? Did you enjoy studies?
Well, honestly, I was able to balance both my academics and sports because of our teachers and support staff at school and college. They were very supportive from the very beginning and that gave us enough time to spend on the field. Had it not been for them, I would have struggled a lot to juggle both these things.
4. Who were your cricketing role model / inspiration whilst growing up?
I looked up to Sourav Ganguly initially. Now, I have started idolising Harmanpreet Kaur, the megastar in women’s cricket. What she has done towards our women’s cricket is just commendable.
5. When did you realize your love for the game? Were your parents supportive of your decision?
At the age of 12, I was selected to play for Haryana team. It was a huge deal for me. I soon started enjoying the sport and have never looked back since then.
6. Which club and Coach did you start your journey with? Which all club have you represented so
I began my journey with Little Master cricket club and Narendra Shah sir were the coach. From the Punjab team, I received a lot of guidance from Prakash Sir. Currently I am practicing at Nimbus Academy in Dehradun and the coach is Upender Rawat sir. I owe a lot to these coaches who have time and again gave me the confidence and helped me improve the game.
7. What age did you make your domestic cricket debut? Were you excited with the opportunity or nervous with the expectations from you?
I played my domestic debut at the age of 12 for Team Haryana at Patiala. I was super excited but nervous at the same time knowing the expectations my coach had from my performance.
8. A cricket match you played, still remember and have enjoyed the most?
I scored 33 runs against Indian Railway in the senior women’s game. Although the score isn’t that huge, but scoring against one of the strongest domestic teams is always tough. I am glad I was able to do that.
9. In a year, what all tournaments are available for a domestic player today? How many have you played so far?
I have played almost all the domestic tournaments.
U19 One Day.
U23 One Day and T20
Seniors One Day and T20.
10. Did Punjab expect to win the challenger series this year? What was going through your mind in that last over against Karnataka?
I wasn’t looking to take the wickets. The idea was to bowl dot balls, not allow the batter to steal any single and ultimately build the pressure. I feel, in such crucial times, you got to play the mind-game if you want to succeed.
11. What was your preparation like before the start of this tournament? What are key learnings from this challenger series that you want to implement going ahead in future games?
We as a team are super pumped up with this historic win. We want to replicate everything we did in this tournament that eventually got us this title. On personal level, it was boosted my morale to a great extent. Like I said, cricket is more of a mind game than a skill game.
12. A player you enjoyed batting with? Also tell a bowler you enjoyed batting against?
I really enjoyed batting with Captain Parveen Khan. And love playing against the spinners.
13. Which is that one area where you wish to improve and work on at a personal.
In the batting area, I usually get out hitting in the long on area, so that’s where I want to work and improve. In the bowling side, I want to learn to control the release of the ball. Sometimes, I throw too many full toss deliveries.
14. Which has been the turning point in your cricket career?
When recently, I bowled that last over against Karnataka in the Seniors T20 game and won the match for Punjab. I will always cherish this moment.
15. How eager are you to make your national debut? When do you think would that happen?
Very eager. That’s one dream every cricketer has when he/she starts playing the sport. Having performed well in the domestic, it has boosted my confidence and I have started practicing even harder to get there. I want to see myself donning the national colours in next 2-3 years.
16. What is your advice to young girls just starting to make their career in cricket?
Keep working hard. Women’s Cricket has achieved a lot and is only growing day by day.
17. Your views on our “Female Cricket” platform?
I would like to thank Team Female Cricket for their work in promoting cricketers like us and sharing our story with the world. It motivates us to do better. Keep up the good work.