Uttarakhand’s Raghvi Bist created history as she became the first player from the state and third overall, after Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues, to hit a double century in the Women’s U19 one-day tournament. On December 7, in the league stage of the said tournament, the 18-year-old right-handed opening batter muscled an undefeated 219 off 154 against Nagaland, peppering the boundary rope 30 times and clearing it on four occasions.
Female Cricket got in touch with Raghvi Bist to congratulate her for her stellar achievement and learn more about her cricketing journey.
Congratulations, Raghvi, for scoring a double-century in the Women’s U19 one-day game. How does it feel?
It feels great. It is always nice to contribute to your team and its success. It was the first match of the one-day tournament, and I was looking forward to having a solid start. Our state coach, Anagha Deshpande (AD) ma’am, always says, “Kuch different karoge toh highlight honge (You will get noticed only if you do something different)”. Keeping that in mind, I was determined to make a mark in this tournament. I did not have the best T20 tournament this year, so I focused more on doing well in this one-day competition. I am glad that I have started on a positive note.
During what time in your innings you thought you could reach 200?
Honestly, I was not thinking about it. I was batting with Neelam, and both of us were enjoying ourselves. She reached her century first, and I remember telling her to go all out and score a double century. Unfortunately, she got out after scoring her century. I continued to bat, and when I was on around 120, AD ma’am said from the outside to start hitting. I did so and, in the flow, reached my double century. All my teammates supported me and appreciated every shot. Before the game, I was not feeling too well. The conditions here (Trivandrum) are humid. I hydrated myself well, took medicines, and went out to bat. Once on the ground, I forgot everything and was in the zone to perform for my team.
With that double-century, your name has been associated with other big players like Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues.
It is a matter of pride to be associated with such great players. I like Smriti Mandhana as a player and have always idolised her.
Did you look up to any player as a role model?
Yes, Rohit Sharma. I like the way he pulls the day. In my game, I try to play pull shots as well.
Let us go back and talk about your early days in cricket. When did you start playing the sport?
I started playing gully cricket with boys in my neighborhood as a child. We played with the jumper ball day in and day out. I told my mother that I want to be a cricketer. Seeing my growing interest in the sport, my mother enrolled me in a cricket academy in 2016. However, I only lasted there for a short time as there were no girls, to begin with, and the coach there would ask me to bowl than bat. I was always interested in batting. So, I left the academy. Fortunately, in my school, St. Joseph’s Academy, I met Rautela sir. He became my coach. On my first day of practice, he sent me to the nets for batting. At present, I train under him at Tanush Cricket Academy.
How did you manage school and cricket?
I stayed with my maternal grandparents as my parents used to be out most of the day. My father is a businessman, and my mother, a homemaker now, used to work as a chairperson (in politics). So, my grandparents took care of me. I attended school in the morning, then returned home in the afternoon for lunch. After that, I went back to school for cricket practice and returned in the evening. Once home, I freshened up, had dinner, completed my homework and retired for the day.
When did you break into the Uttarakhand U19 team?
Our state association was formed in 2018-19. That year, I made my debut for Uttarakhand U19. I started formal cricket practice in 2016, and in a matter of a couple of years, I broke into the state team. My first domestic tournament was the Women’s U19 T20 in Himachal Pradesh. It was not that great, as I had an average performance. After that, we had the one-day tournament in Dehradun, and I had a good run.
Which has been your memorable performance to date besides this innings of 219 not out?
In the second one-day match that I played in the 2018-19 season, I scored 168 not out. It was against Pondicherry in Dehradun. I opened the batting and batted through to the 50 overs. We scored 282 and bowled out Pondicherry for 97.
In 2021, Uttarakhand won its first-ever Women’s U19 one-day championship. Can you share some of your memories from that competition?
We were in Surat, and most matches were getting washed out. We were not getting a chance to play, and that was frustrating. Also, we were not allowed to go out because of the quarantine. It was a difficult time for us. I think our fourth match was against Saurashtra, and it was likely to get abandoned. However, our coach requested the concerned authorities to get atleast 20 overs of play. Fortunately, we got it. We bowled out Saurashtra for 39 and chased down the total in around three overs. I registered a hat trick in that match. When we were sitting out and waiting for the rain to stop, I often told my teammates that if I got a chance to bat, I would defend or hit the ball hard. Against Saurashtra, I did the same. It was dot-hit-dot, and so on.
Were there any challenging situations in your cricketing journey?
After a good start to my domestic career, I had average performances in the next two years. People from outside used to comment that I was not focused enough. However, I chose to ignore the outside noise and concentrate on the process. It has worked well for me so far.
With Women’s IPL coming up next year, how are you looking at it? If we assume the same teams as men’s IPL to feature in the women’s competition, which team would you like to play for?
I would like to play for Mumbai Indians since Rohit Sharma, who is my favorite player, plays for the franchise. Right now, I aim to do well in the one-day tournament and, after that, focus on T20 cricket.
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.