Interview: “I am living my father’s dream of playing for India,” Parshavi Chopra

Mastering arguably the most difficult art of cricket, which is leg-spin bowling, is this talented cricketer from Uttar Pradesh. Parshavi Chopra, who was recently announced in India Women’s U19 squad that will play against New Zealand Women’s U19 in a five-match T20 series, is a wily leg-spinner who has been doing exceptionally well at the domestic level.

 

Female Cricket interviews Parshavi Chopra. PC: Getty Images
Female Cricket interviews Parshavi Chopra. PC: Getty Images

 

Parshavi shares her journey from being a national-level skating champion to realizing her dream of wearing the India jersey and many more with Female Cricket.

Excerpts

Recently you featured in the quadrangular series, including India A, India B, Sri Lanka, and West Indies. How was the experience?

It was a great experience since we played against international teams for the first time. Before the series, we were taught how to play against big teams when we were at the NCA. Since neither of the teams knew the other, it was an exciting challenge. At NCA, we had Nooshin ma’am, who was the bowling coach. As a former India cricketer, she shared her experiences and guided us to become better. She advised us to bowl according to the field and the batter’s weaknesses. Overall it was a fantastic feeling. Wearing the India jersey for the first time gave me goosebumps. I remember the day when I first wore the jersey. I could not sleep that night.

 

Parshavi Chopra in action. PC: Getty Images
Parshavi Chopra in action. PC: Getty Images

 

The inaugural ICC Women’s U19 World Cup will be played in January next year. When did you come to know about it? Did you have any special preparations?

I learnt about the World Cup last year through a news source. I think there was COVID-19 imposed lockdown during that time. Since the day I came to know about the World Cup, I have started working twice as hard. I kept small goals and tried to achieve them one by one. First, it was about doing well in the women’s U19 T20 trophy and then getting selected for Challengers. Last year when I could not go out and practice because of the lockdown, my father prepared a wicket in our backyard. He also arranged for floodlights. I practiced single-wicket bowling. I added variations, including top spins and googlies, to my armoury. Hence after the lockdown, when practice resumed, I was an improved cricketer since I had not taken any breaks during the lockdown. During that period, I played a lot with the boys too.

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Parshavi Chopra with her father. PC: Supplied
Parshavi Chopra with her father. PC: Supplied

 

Now let’s go back a bit and talk about your early days in cricket. When did you start playing the sport?

Like any other girl in our country, I started playing cricket with boys in my area. I didn’t know much about women’s cricket back then. I was about 10 when I first started playing. Seeing my growing interest in the sport, my parents enrolled me in a cricket academy. The same year I joined, I gave trials for the state team. However, I was not selected. I gave the trials again the following year and made it to the Uttar Pradesh U16 and U19 teams. I was the second-highest wicket-taker in my debut U19 season (2018-19). Though I started my journey as a right-arm medium-pace bowler, I switched to leg-spin since I always idolised Shane Warne.

 

Parshavi Chopra picked up 4-wicket haul against Sri Lanka in U19 World Cup. PC: Getty Images
Parshavi Chopra picked up 4-wicket haul against Sri Lanka in U19 World Cup. PC: Getty Images

 

Which cricket academy did you join? Who was your coach?

I joined two cricket academies; Youngstar Cricket Academy and Yuvraj Singh Cricket Academy. In the mornings, I did fitness, and in the evenings, I did skill training. My father had prepared a seven-day schedule for me. My only job was to follow the schedule set by him. J.P.Nautiyal sir is my coach. Apart from him, I would consider my father as my coach. During my early days, I got hit hard once. I didn’t tell my father since I was afraid he would ask me to quit cricket. Till my eighth standard, I concentrated on academics entirely. When I made it to the state team, I shifted my focus to cricket. I believe giving your 100 percent to just one thing will help you excel. I completed my schooling, but my primary focus was cricket.

Do you remember your first U19 match?

Yes, it was against Assam. The memory is not too fond as I was hit above the lips while fielding. Our coach asked me to sit out. But I wanted to bowl. Thankfully I could get in a few overs. It was a tough experience as I had never bowled in a match when I was injured.

 

Parshavi Chopra. PC: Supplied
Parshavi Chopra. PC: Supplied

 

Which is your best performance to date?

In one of the U19 one-day games, I bowled six overs and picked up three wickets without conceding a single run. I bowled all the maiden overs. Another one I can think of was during an inter-school boys’ cricket tournament. I picked up 23/6 in six overs in the finals. I also won the best bowler of the tournament. I think playing with boys has improved me as a cricketer. They have good judgement, and their intensity is high. Boys tend to manufacture shots, unlike girls, who mostly play according to the ball. Therefore, I feel playing with them has made me a better cricketer.

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You practice a lot of single-wicket bowling. How has it helped you?

Single-wicket bowling is very important. It helps in improving your accuracy. If you can bowl at one spot consistently, then sooner or later, you are guaranteed to trap the batter and get the wicket.

 

Parshavi Chopra. PC: Getty Images
Parshavi Chopra. PC: Getty Images

 

One of the best spinners in the world, Poonam Yadav, is also from Uttar Pradesh. Did you get a chance to meet her?

Yes, I met her during one of the U19 games. She discussed tricks and trades of leg spin bowling with me. She also advised me what to do when the batter is attacking. For example, you can pitch the ball outside the leg stump or far from the off stump to trap the batter. She also emphasized bowling to your strengths and the batter’s weaknesses.

Next up, you will be seen playing against New Zealand Women’s U19. How are you training yourself for it?

Honestly, I am not overthinking. I want to take it one day at a time. I continue to practice single-wicket bowling. Besides this, I would try to bowl googlies and top spins and vary my speeds. I think foreigners find it difficult to read the variations. Also, I have been working on my batting.

Rapid Fire

Who is your role model?

Shane Warne

Which batter is difficult to get out?

I don’t think any

Which is your favourite mode of dismissal?

Bowled and LBW

Which is your favourite food?

Kadhi Chawal

Which is your favourite movie?

Biopics of MS Dhoni and Mithali Raj

What are your hobbies?

I like to listen to music. I also enjoy playing basketball, lawn tennis, table tennis, and badminton. When I was in school, I was a national-level skating champion.

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.

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