She holds the record of picking up all 10 wickets in a one day innings in an U19 domestic tournament. The captain of Chandigarh U-19, who also plays for the senior side is one of the best fast bowlers in Indian domestic cricket. In an exclusive interview with Female Cricket, Chandigarh’s pace ace Kashvee Gautam, who will feature in the upcoming senior women’s one day Challenger Trophy, talks about her love for sports, her best bowling performance and more.
Take us through your early days in cricket.
Right from my childhood I loved playing sports. Be it cricket or volleyball or skating. I simply enjoyed playing. With regards to cricket, I started playing with boys in my colony. From day one, I used to bowl at a fast pace. Watching the boys, I learnt the bowling action. Running in and bowling fast gave me that adrenaline rush. Playing with boys continued till the time one gentleman saw me and guided me to a coach who ran an academy where girls also practiced. I was 14 years old when I first joined a formal cricket academy. I was coached by Nagesh Gupta sir. At that time, there were hardly six to seven girls with me for practice. Today, there are close to 50 girls who train under sir.
Did you enjoy the support of your family?
Yes, my parents were very supportive from the day I decided to play cricket at a professional level. They have always encouraged me and motivated me during my lows. They have been my pillars of strength and I owe my success to them. I was financially well supported by my father, a property dealer and on the home front, my mother, a homemaker, provided me with everything that I needed to become a good cricketer.
When did you break into the state cricket team?
The very same year when I joined the academy, I was selected to play for Punjab U-19. I played for Punjab for two years; 2017 and 2018. Later when Chandigarh received the affiliation from the BCCI in 2019, I switched to playing for Chandigarh. It was always my dream to play for Chandigarh since it was the city where I was born and brought up. Nagesh Gupta sir has played an instrumental role in making me the cricketer that I am today.
Who was your role model?
I looked up to Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. I was inspired by his swing and always wanted to swing the ball like he did. If ever I get a chance to meet him, I will ask for some tips that will help me become a better swing bowler. I will also take some fitness tips from him as I think that he is a perfectly fit bowler.
You have played at the state level for over four years now. Till date, which has been your best performance?
Last year, when we (Chandigarh) were playing against Arunachal Pradesh in a U-19 one-day tournament, I scalped all the 10 wickets in an innings, which included six LBWs and four wickets in the form of bowling. I also accounted for a hat-trick and helped my side win by 161 runs. That bowling performance has been like an absolute dream.
This year has been a good one for you so far. You were a part of the U-19 Challenger Trophy and now you will be playing the senior women Challenger Trophy. How has the journey been so far?
I had a good outing in the U-19 one-day tournament which propelled my selection for the U-19 Challenger Trophy. But honestly, I didn’t expect to make the cut into the senior women Challenger Trophy. I am very happy and excited to play alongside some of the best women players in the country. I am looking forward to the opportunity to play and hopefully, I am able to make an impact in the competition. I got to learn a lot during the U-19 Challenger Trophy. Going into the senior tournament, I will be looking to implement things that I have learnt in the past. Apart from the skills, it will be necessary to be mentally strong as I will be up against experienced players.
In 2020, you were a part of the Trailblazers team in the Women’s T20 Challenge that was played in Sharjah. Tell us about your experience.
It was a wonderful experience to share the dressing room with some of the top India players as well as foreign stars. There is a lot to learn from them. I got to learn a lot of things from them, be it on the field as well as off the field. Though I didn’t get a chance to play, there was a lot to look forward to from the outside. I understood that cricket is 60-70% a mind game. It is therefore important to be mentally strong when you play at the highest level.
How has women’s cricket developed in Chandigarh over the years?
UTCA (Union Territory Cricket Association) Chandigarh, though received affiliation just a couple of years back in 2019, it has done a lot of work to encourage girls to take up cricket. There are many girls who want to pursue cricket in Chandigarh. The association provides state-of-the-art facilities to the players, which have helped them as individuals as well as the team as a whole. This year apart from the training camps, we had district-level matches, which served as a good practice ground for the players. There is no doubt that Chandigarh will produce great cricketers in years to come.
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.