She is one of the upcoming all-rounders in Indian domestic women’s cricket. Captain of Chandigarh, she was a part of the India probables this year. She is a top-order bat and medium pacer. In an exclusive interview with Female Cricket, Amanjot Kaur sheds light on her cricketing journey that started from Punjab and has come very close to playing for India.
At what age did you start playing cricket?
Right from my childhood, I loved playing sports. I played cricket in my colony with the boys. We used to have inter-colony matches and since then I had that competitive spirit to do well in the sport. Apart from cricket, I played hockey, football, and handball. I represented my school, APJ Smart School, in these sports at the inter-school level.
Formal cricket training started only at the age of 15. I practiced for a couple of months but then opted out to concentrate on my 10th standard exams. After completing my 10th standard, I went to a cricket academy in sector 26 in Chandigarh, which my father found out. However, the slots for girls were full in that academy. Despite that, I was given a chance to bowl in the nets. At that time, Dipendar Chabbra sir saw me and asked me to go to Nagesh Gupta sir’s academy in sector 32. That is how my cricketing journey started.
I also played cricket at the inter-school level for Government Senior Secondary School, from where I completed my 11th and 12th standard.
Tell us about your parents and their support for your cricket.
My parents have been supportive right through my playing days. My father is a carpenter by profession. He provided me with everything that was needed with respect to my cricket. When I first started playing cricket, I had to reach the ground at 6 am. My father used to wake me up at 5 am and together both of us would leave home at 5.30 am. He used to drop me and pick me up from the ground till a couple of years back. Now, he has gifted me a scooter, with which I travel to the ground.
When did you break into the state team?
I was selected to play for Punjab U-19 and Punjab U-23 in 2017. I played for Punjab for a couple of years and after that, I moved to play for Chandigarh. Chandigarh received affiliation from the BCCI in 2019 and since then I have been playing for Chandigarh.
Did you always want to become an all-rounder?
Actually, I started off as a right-arm medium pacer. But during my first season, that is in 2017, in one of the U-19 one-day matches, our (Punjab’s) usual opener got injured. At that time our coach Arun Bedi Sir asked the team, “Who would want to open the batting?” I raised my hand. We were playing against Himachal Pradesh. We had to chase 80 odd runs in 50 overs. I was just told to be there in the middle for the maximum possible time and play out the balls. I did the needful and to my delight, I took the team home. From that day onwards, I started focusing on my batting as well. Today, I am a top-order bat and I continue to bowl medium pace.
Which has been your best performance to date?
With the bat, it has to be 110 not out against Maharashtra during the senior women one-day tournament that was played in March this year. I came in to bat at number three. We were chasing 213. I came in to bat in just the third over and guided the team to a three-wicket win chasing the target in 49.2 overs.
With the ball, I would say, the four-wicket haul that I scalped against Himachal Pradesh during the 2017-18 season, which was also my first domestic season. In that match, I did not start off well. I was bowling a lot of loose deliveries and extras. I was taken out from the attack. After a few overs, Kanika Ahuja, who was the captain of the team, brought me back into the attack. In my second spell, I bowled well and accounted for four wickets. It was the same match in which I had opened the batting.
Apart from being a wonderful all-rounder, you are the captain of the Chandigarh team. When did you get the captainship and what does it take to be a good captain?
In my very first year itself that is 2019, I became the captain of Chandigarh. Before that, I had led the North Zone team. Captainship has made me more mature as a player.
To be a good captain, I think that he/she should be able to think on his/her feet and form strategies and tactics based on the match situation. It could be rotating the bowlers or amending the plans while batting. Apart from this, a captain should take all the players of the team along and encourage them to get the most out of each of them.
This year you were selected for the India probables’ camp just before the tour of Australia. Did you expect it? What were your key learnings?
Honestly, it came as a surprise to me. I was not expecting to get picked for the India probables’ camp. It was a very good learning experience as I had Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey, etc. around. During the camp, we played many match simulations. At that time, Jhulu di and Shikha di guided me and gave me tips that helped me improve my bowling. When I got a chance to bat, Mithu di shared her knowledge. All of them told me to play my natural game and not get bogged down by the players around. Whether I was batting or bowling, I was told to keep in mind that I was playing just against another player and not against some Indian team player.
You were a part of the recently concluded senior women one day Challenger Trophy. How was the experience of playing in this tournament?
Though I did not have a great outing in the tournament, I got to learn a lot of things by watching the other players. I had a decent outing with both bat and ball, but I was hoping to do a lot better.
How is women’s cricket growing in Chandigarh?
Many girls are taking up cricket in Chandigarh. There is a lot of young talent in Chandigarh which needs grooming. Our association is doing a lot of work to develop women’s cricket. We have training camps all year round. This year we had inter-zone matches within Chandigarh. The girls were divided into four zones and we had a one-day tournament. Such matches provide the necessary exposure and experience which comes in handy while playing bigger tournaments.
What are your future plans?
I want to work on my batting as well as bowling. With respect to my batting, I want to add new shots to my armory which will help me play all around the ground. From a bowling perspective, I want to work on adding variations. Additionally, I also want to work on my fitness, which will ultimately help me in my batting and bowling.
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.