She made her domestic debut at a tender age of 12. Started her journey with Punjab cricket, but soon had to leave her family and move to Himachal in search of better opportunities. Female Cricket caught up in a chat with this promising young cricketer Harleen Deol. Read the interview below.
1. What was your first interaction with cricket like?
My first interaction with cricket was at home with my elder brother after which I started playing with his friends in the neighbourhood.
2. Walk us through your initial (childhood) cricket days? Any gully cricket moment that you remember?
Started to play with my brother in the house and then with him and his friends in the neighbourhood park. Then slowly my brother got into higher studies and I was alone girl playing with the boys. This surely raised many eyebrows. Even some of the aunties complained to my mother that she plays with boys. But my mother brushed off saying that one should be clear in their conscience.
Best moment of cricket in childhood - my school coach saw me bowling to the best batsman of my class in 3rd grade and I bowled him and then he took me for the trails of u-19 school team and I was selected.
3. How did you manage your education and other commitments alongside cricket? Did you enjoy studying?
In my school, I was selected to represent basketball, cricket and football. And I always used to get 15-20 days before my final exams. Started when I was in the 4th grade, this routine has stayed with me till today. I am currently in 2nd year of my graduation and still following the same routine.
I hardly study the whole year but when it comes to studying, I study very seriously.
4. Who were your cricketing role model / inspiration whilst growing up?
Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne
5. When did you realize your love for the game?
When I shifted to Himachal leaving my home, school and friends, that was the time I realized I need to be focused on cricket and give everything I have got.
6. What age did you make your domestic cricket debut? Were you excited with the opportunity or nervous with the expectations from you?
Made my domestic debut at age of 12 for Punjab and I was pretty excited.
7. A cricket match you played, still remember and have enjoyed the most?
In 2016 in u-19 NCA camp, when I scored 163 not out in a two-Day match. It was a match where I stood alone on one side, as wickets kept tumbling on the other side.
8. You started your journey with Punjab cricket and then moved to HPCA in search for better opportunities. You are known to be one of the promising cricketers from the region. How has the journey been so far? Highlight some of the high-low moments you’ve witnessed so far?
Thanks for considering me a promising cricketer. The journey has been tough but I learnt a lot from it. Taking a decision to leave my home was not an easy one but I was focused on 1 thing and that was being a better cricketer.
The high moment : my century(116) against east zone in inter-zonal in 2015 was a big boost to my confidence and my career.
The low moment : When I fractured my finger early in the season in 2017. I had almost lost my whole season and it was a big low in my career like wasting a whole year.
9. In a year, what all tournaments are available for a domestic player today? How many have you played so far?
We get to play u-23 inter-state, zonal matches and senior women’s inter-state and zonal matches. And I play in each of these tournaments representing Himachal or north Zone.
10. Which was the recent tournament you played? How did you perform there?
U-23 inter-zonal 2017 was the last tournament I played and was the 2nd highest run scorer in the tournament.
11. Tell us about your coaches who have contributed to your success?
Praveen Singha Sir: He was the one who saw me taking wicket of the best batsman of my class and took me for selection in the school team. I was 8 years old when played my 1st inter school u-19 match.
RP singh Sir- he was the one who promoted me from school cricket and got me to inter-district and inter-state cricket.
Prakash Sir - coach with Punjab team made me a leg spinner while I was an offie in my initial days of cricket.
Pawan sir - my coach in Himachal for my u-19. In my early stages of being in Himachal, he gave me chances to bat up the order making me an opener for the team.
Pushpanjali Banerjee who is our Himachal team coach changed my mental thinking and raised the standard of fielding.
All my coaches have given me something or the other to learn and it’s only because of them I am what I am today.
12. What do you have to say about India's performance at the World Cup this year?
Indian women’s cricket is at its peak. They had a good performance in this year World Cup in England. The levels have surely gone up in all departments.
13. Any superstition that you follow?
I just think about my family and a few closed friends who make me feel positive before the match.
14. How eager are you to make your national debut? When do you think would that happen?
I am very eager to wear that blue jersey. This is something I have always dreamt of. I hope that it happens as soon as possible.
15. Your views on our “Female Cricket” platform? Your suggestions/feedback for us?
It’s a great platform for people to follow not only girls who represent team India but you guys are bringing domestic girls into the fold and making people know about them. Hats off to you guys.