Tejal Hasabnis, the bating all-rounder from Maharashtra could be the next big thing in Indian women's cricket. Her records and statistics are a testimony to her excellence. Her breakthrough performance in 2013-14 U-19 season against Assam caught everyone's attention when she struck an unbeaten 47-ball 51. Started her journey with gully cricket, later Tejal practiced at Cricket Next Academy in Pune. There's more to know about her journey. Read the interview here:
1. What was your first interaction with cricket like?
All the boys in my society used to play cricket during summer vacations. I used to watch them from my balcony. One day I mustered some courage, went down and asked them if I can play with them. To my surprise, they agreed. They were very supportive. I did not know how to hold a cricket bat. So the boys took the onus and taught me how to hold a bat initially. I found it interesting and soon fell in love with the beauty of the game. From that day onward, I started playing cricket with them. I remember how eager I used to be for sunday's.
2. Walk us through your initial (childhood) cricket days? Any gully cricket moment that you remember?
I remember once my school tests and exams were scheduled to start on Monday. So the day before this exam i.e Sunday was very annoying. My mom wanted me to sit and study on a sunday evening, but I wanted to play. So we made a deal. Morning 10.30 to 1 in the afternoon is my time to relax and enjoy cricket and post lunch, I shall study.
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3. How did you manage your education and other commitments alongside cricket? Did you enjoy studying?
I don't really enjoy studying but I know it is important. So, I am now pursuing S.Y. BBA and giving exams externally. I was lucky to have supportive school teachers and friends during my school days.
4. Who were your cricketing role model / inspiration whilst growing up?
I used to admire Sehwag's batting class. His approach and power hitting was something I enjoyed the most watching. After him, it is none other than M S Dhoni. His calmness on the field and ability to finish the matches under pressure is just awesome.
5. When did you realize your love for the game? Were your parents supportive of your decision?
Yes my parents were always supportive for as they realized my love towards the game. But like every other parent, they were worried about my studies. But when they saw me managing both my studies and cricket, they were happy and never stopped my cricket. My dad used to drop me in the morning and come to pick up by adjusting his office timings. Because it was an afternoon school for me, I had to practice in the morning.
6. Which club and Coach did you start your journey with? Which all club have you represented so far?
After my first inter school competition, people suggested my dad to send me to a proper coaching to practice with a leather ball. I remember I scored 92* in just 32 balls in 12 overs match. My dad met Atul sir at Cricket Next Academy. And it's been 7 years, Atul sir and his team is helping me grow my cricket skills everyday.
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 domestic debut at 15. I was very excited to play matches with the Maharashtra State Tshirt on me. I still have one pair of those T-shirts.
8. A cricket match you played, still remember and have enjoyed the most?
I will always remember the final of all India U-19 championship in 2013-14. We ended up as joint winners. I scored crucial 51* in that match vs Assam. That match ended up in a tie. But the way we played that tournament was very special and I will always remember it.
9. You have played for Maharashtra and India Green as well. You are known to be one of the promising cricketers from Maharashtra. How has the journey been so far? Highlight some of the high-low moments you’ve witnessed so far?
It's been an awesome journey so far. It has helped me grow not just as a cricketer, but also as a person. I have learnt a lot in the journey and is now looking forward to make the most of every opportunity thrown at me.
10. In a year, what all tournaments are available for a domestic player today? How many have you played so far?
We have U-19 inter state west zone tournament, super league, under-23 inter state west zone, seniors one day knock out and super league, senior t20 knock out and super league, senior u23 and u19 inter-zonals. I have played every tournament in the domestic season. But now since I am 20, I won't be part of u-19 tournament anymore.
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11. Which was the recent tournament you played? How did you perform there?
I played u-23 inter-state and inter-zonals one day matches. I did perform well with bat. Scored around 360 runs including 4 half centuries and was not out in 3 innings.
12. Tell us about your coaches who have shaped your cricket career?
I was always with Atul Sir at Cricket Next Academy since the beginning. Atul sir and his team of coaches have played an important role in my cricketing career. Sir has worked with me on my batting & bowling skills. He has helped me understand the game and prepare myself mentally and psychologically.
13. How was it like playing against the likes of Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur, Jhulan Goswami in the Challenger Trophy ?
It is always a pleasure playing with or against these legends. They have been an inspiration to all of us. By just watching them play you can learn a lot of things.
14. What's your next aim / goal to achieve for yourself? How are you working towards achieving that goal?
As for now I am working on some skills and my fitness as it will help me in the upcoming season. Really excited and looking forward to it.
15. Any superstition that you follow?
I don't have any superstition but yes I play with pink grips on my my bats.
16. How eager are you to make your national debut? When do you think would that happen?
Obviously, I am very eager to wear the blue jersey.
17. Your views on our “Female Cricket” platform?
Female cricket is really a great platform for women's cricket. You guys are promoting the game well and inspiring many girls to make their dreams come true..
18. Rapid Fire:
Favorite Movie :- Arya Ek Diwana ( tollywood movie as I love to watch tollywood movies)
Favorite hobby: Love to go on ride with friends
Favorite cricketer: Sehwag, Dhoni, AB de Villiers
Favorite Actors: Hrithik , Allu Arjuna