She joined a cricket coaching academy in 2016 and within a couple of years, she made her way into the India A team. Taking quick strides, this 20-year-old from Delhi is a dashing all-rounder, who bowls right-arm medium pace and bats left hand. There is no doubt that she has a very bright future ahead of her. Female Cricket got in touch with this rising superstar, to know more about her cricketing journey.
Excerpts from the interview
Tell us about your early days in cricket
Right from my childhood, I was into sports. In school, I was into athletics, especially running. Since then, I paid attention to my fitness and worked on building the same. Apart from athletics, I played cricket with boys in my gully. Back then, I didn’t know much about women’s cricket. Fortunately, through one of my contacts, I came across a cricket coaching academy in Delhi. I joined the academy at Punjabi Bagh, where Sharvan Kumar sir was the coach. I was 16 then. In my very first year of training itself, I appeared for the Delhi U-19 trials. However, due to incomplete documents, I missed the bus. The next year, that is 2017, I ensured that all my documents were up to date, and to my joy, I was selected in the state team. In that year, I was selected for Delhi U-19, U-23 as well as the senior team. Though you may think, I started quite late, the fitness level that I had by then, actually helped me to make the cut.
Was your family supportive?
Yes, I feel blessed to have such a wonderful set of parents. My mother and my father have been very supportive throughout my journey so far. My elder sister has also been very helpful. I owe my success to them.
Within two years of starting cricket professionally, you made your way into the Challenger trophy. How was that feeling?
Riding on my prolific domestic performances, I was picked up in the Challenger Trophy in 2018. It was an amazing feeling. I was thrilled to play the tournament. Playing the Challenger Trophy means that you are just a stone’s throw away from playing for India. I was looking forward to continuing with my domestic success at a higher level as well.
You are an all-rounder, who bats left-handed and bowls right-arm medium pace. What do you enjoy more?
When I started, it was bowling, that I enjoyed doing. I used to open the bowling for my side and bat lower down the order, at number seven or eight. I was a finisher and I used to play aggressive cricket down the order. Gradually, I was promoted to the middle order, courtesy of the enormous number of runs that I was scoring. At present, I bat in the middle order and either open the bowling or I am brought in as a first change. Now, if you ask me, I enjoy both, batting and bowling equally.
Who is your role model?
I like Virat Kohli’s batting. At home, we all are glued to the screen, when he walks in to bat. Apart from him, I look up to Harmanpreet Kaur. I am inspired by her attacking style of play.
Out of all the matches that you have played so far, which one is your favorite?
It’s actually tough to choose just one. Honestly, I love facing tough positions like Andhra, Mumbai, etc. I simply enjoy playing against these teams. So during one such match in 2018, we were playing against Andhra. The match was even-steven. Andhra required a handful of runs, while we needed three wickets to win. Brought back into the bowling attack, I scalped two out of the last three wickets and accounted for a run out as well. For me, that was one of my best performances, and that too in a crunch situation.
In 2019, you were a part of the India team that played the Emerging Asia Cup in Bangladesh. Tell us about that.
I was picked up for the Emerging Asia Cup tournament, after a string of good performances in the Challenger Trophy. I was excited to play the competition. We went to Bangladesh, where we had Sri Lanka and Pakistan also. A total of four teams; India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka featured in the Emerging Asia Cup. We played the finals against Sri Lanka and ended up on the winning side. It was a fantastic experience. I had a good outing with both, bat and ball.
In your journey so far, you may have across some low patches. How did you rise from those?
Early this year, I played for India A against Thailand in Patna. I had some good performances with both, bat and ball. After the series, I was expecting to carry forward for my stellar form into the domestic competitions. Just after the Thailand matches, I played for Delhi U-23. Contrary to what I had expected, I did not have the best of the starts. I hardly scored in the first four to five matches. I was a little disturbed as I felt. I spoke to my coach and also watched my batting videos. I also trained harder in the nets and motivated myself to rise stronger in the next fixture which was against Andhra. Somehow, from the time I started playing for Delhi, there have been different energy in me when I walk out to play against tough oppositions like Andhra, Mumbai, etc. That day when we played against Andhra, I sort of redeemed myself and went on to score 75. After that match, there was no looking back. The U-23 matches were followed by senior level matches, and playing for the Delhi senior team, I carried the same form into that tournament as well. I hit three half-centuries.
Apart from cricket, what else do you like doing?
I like playing football.
What is your message to the young and budding women cricketers?
I would say, be disciplined, follow a proper routine, look after your diet, and work continuously on improving your fitness. Apart from this, work hard and never get bogged down by the lows that you encounter in your cricketing journey.
I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.