Exclusive: “I’m aiming for the 2025 Women’s ODI World Cup at home” : Shweta Sehrawat

At the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) auction, where a few prominent names remained unpicked, there was an electrifying 19-year-old talent who fetched four times her base prize money. Her prowess had already shone through as she emerged as the leading run-scorer in the inaugural ICC Women’s Under-19 World Cup, where she steered India to a resounding triumph. This achievement was just one of many in her promising career, and certainly, not the last. Such is the undeniable talent and unmistakable class of this young prodigy, who is celebrated as ‘the next big thing,’ and is one of Delhi’s very own, Shweta Sehrawat.

Shweta Sehrawat. PC: Getty Images
Shweta Sehrawat. PC: Getty Images

Female Cricket caught up with Shweta Sehrawat and here are the excerpts from our exclusive!

What was it like to win the inaugural edition of the U19 World Cup?

“Winning the World Cup was a dream come true feeling, for which we had been working hard for a year and more. So when we finally got hands on the trophy, it was a next-level feeling, very surreal for us.”

When did you hear about the ICC Women’s U19 World Cup?

“I actually found out about the (U)19 World Cup when Covid hit, during our senior domestic season around February. It was the 20/21 season, and in that season, I made my debut. So, during that season, I heard that the 2019 World Cup was going to happen, but it had been delayed by a year.

“In that domestic season, there was only one senior competition and that was my debut season. I had a good performance and later my coaches came and told me that an under-19 World Cup would be held soon. So, I felt good that it was finally happening. At that time, I was 16 years old.”

At that time, had you set your mind to play in the U-19 World Cup?

‘To win. I even put up a poster.’

Elaborating on the poster, she added, “In our room, we had a fire alarm letter, and I didn’t have any paper around at that time. So my coach called me and told me to set a target for myself that, I’ll play in the World Cup. So I made that target and put it right by my TV so that the first thing I would see in the morning was that target. So, every morning, I would visualize it and before going to sleep, imagine that we’re lifting the trophy.”

Shweta then talked us through her highs and lows.

“We had an NCA camp with 25 participants, and initially, I wasn’t selected. Before that, we had a ZCA camp, which involved 25 participants as well, and it was spread across six different locations. Out of those six teams, 15 players were selected, and my name wasn’t among them. However, I was called into the camp for the last 7 days. On the first day, I felt frustrated because they didn’t allow me to practice. There are protocols in place, medical tests, and more that should be done before you’re allowed to practice.

“So, on my first day there, I was like – I had been brought in for a few days, and there’s also a Sunday, it’ll be an off day (so just let me play). I felt quite frustrated because there were so few days left. Later, I was told there were two matches scheduled. But before that, the team list had been announced, and my name wasn’t on it. So, I was really down, to the point that I didn’t even leave my room. I didn’t want to go out. Then, I got a call from home asking what had happened. I said, ‘I’m okay, it’s fine, these things happen.’

“So, I spoke to the coaches, and they told me not to worry, to perform well in domestic cricket, and there are still chances to make it to the World Cup squad. I said, ‘Yes, I will.’ Then, I don’t know what happened, but I suddenly felt a surge of aggression within me. I didn’t like the fact that I hadn’t been noticed or selected for the team without even being given a chance. The next day, we had two matches. Both were One-Day matches. In the first one, I scored 35 runs off 24 balls, and I was out, but we won that game. In the second match, we chased down over 200 odd runs in 25 overs, and I scored a century. At that moment, I had this burning desire within me to prove that I was capable and could perform.”

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Exclusive: "I'm aiming for the 2025 Women's ODI World Cup at home" : Shweta Sehrawat
Exclusive: “I’m aiming for the 2025 Women’s ODI World Cup at home” : Shweta Sehrawat

She recalled another such comeback, further adding, “Actually, something similar had happened before. I was dropped from the senior team (Ranji). The next day, we had a match against Uttarakhand, it was a series at Kotla. I got a chance to play one match in that series. There were two matches on that day, and I wasn’t playing in the first match. At that time, I also had exams, and I had come late from my exam. So, I played the second match, which was a day-night match. In the first innings, I batted and scored 60 runs off 32 balls in just 10 overs. Even then, I had the feeling to prove myself, after I had been dropped from the team.”

With a long domestic season, followed by the U19 World Cup, the WPL, the Emerging Teams Asia Cup, and an off-season camp with her WPL franchise UP Warriorz, Shweta has hardly had the time to be at home. However, she is pursuing a degree in English honors.

Quoting Shweta, “When it comes to studies and academics, I’ll give all the credit to my mom and sister because they were the ones who encouraged me so much to study. I’m thankful that they did because it gives you a different feeling when you’re educated and responsible. It feels good.

Are you enrolled for any degree now?

“Right now, I’m pursuing my graduation in English Honours.”

Is that your favorite subject?

“My mom and sister suggested it, and I thought, Okay, I’ll leave the choice of what to study to them, whatever they think is best for me. They just give me tasks, and I have to complete them.”

How were the celebrations at home when you were named in the U19 World Cup squad?

“They (family) would know that because even at that time, we had come to play a series in Mumbai, the NZ series. After that, our squad was announced, and we didn’t go home then either. We went straight from there to the NCA and packed everything to head straight to South Africa.”

What that your first trip to South Africa?

First international trip?

How was the experience?
“It was a bit difficult, mainly with food. But in the end, we were determined to win, and we kept telling ourselves that. So, we just ate whatever we could find.

“We didn’t carry anything with us because we hadn’t gone home; we had gone directly from the camp. So, we didn’t have anything with us and we didn’t even have the idea that there might be a situation where we wouldn’t find (vegetarian) food. So, we thought, ‘Oh no, we’re stuck.’ Then, we survived the entire World Cup on Pizza and Sprite. Since then, I haven’t touched Pizza. There’s just no chance of having Pizza.”

Shweta then narrated a couple of pranks they pulled off during their stay in South Africa.

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“We scared Shabnam (Shakil). I wasn’t involved in this (laughs). There was a balcony in our room, a small area, and they hid a girl there. They gave her a blanket and told her to suddenly come in. So, Parshi (Parshavi Chopra) came into the room and took out the key card. Shabnam was inside the room, and she thought the lights had gone off. She gets scared of the dark. So, she went outside into our balcony area, and there was Falak (Naz) hiding under the blanket. When Falak suddenly appeared in front of Shabnam, she screamed very loudly.

Titas Sadhu with Captain Shweta Sehrawat. PC: Female Cricket
Titas Sadhu with Captain Shweta Sehrawat. PC: Female Cricket

“On the spot, I pulled off a prank. We went to the mall and purchased a fake snake. There was a gift shop there, and we were shopping for our families. We bought it there, and then I thought, Let’s take this; we’ll scare someone with it. So, we took it to our room, Titas (Sadhu), Mannat (Kashyap), and me. The three of us had a lot of fun, we scared everyone a lot with it.”

Were there any nerves, ahead of the big U19 World Cup Final?

“There were four of us in the room – me, Titas, Mannat, and Rishita Basu, the wicketkeeper. We were all sitting together, thinking that, the day we had been waiting for was finally here. Before the match, there’s that feeling of anticipation, wanting the day to come quickly so you can get on with the game, win, and lift the cup.

“We were so focused and determined for that match that we usually don’t do as much rolling or casual exercises as advised, but that day, we did exactly how many minutes of rolling and stretching our coach told us to do, and we followed it religiously to be in the best possible shape for the next day. We were completely serious and didn’t miss a single thing we were instructed to do.”

After the World Cup, on arrival, the team was felicitated at the Motera Stadium, in front of a packed stadium. How was that?

“It was quite different because even when we were sitting in the car, we could literally hear our names being cheered, and people recognized us. We were hearing each name being cheered, so it felt very different that so many people were supporting and had actually seen the U19 women’s team. It was a very proud feeling.”

Were you confident of a bid at the WPL auction?

“I wasn’t overly confident at that time. I just thought there might be a chance because I had performed well, so if any team was interested, they might pick me. But yes, it felt really good (that it happened). I was actually at practice when this was happening. So, I and a friend of mine were going to practice, and we were watching the auction. As it was happening and my name came up, my friend suddenly got really hyped up. I told her to calm down and let me drive.”

What’s your goal for the near future?

“Next, I just wish, whichever World Cup India plays in, we win that and personally, I’m aiming for the 2025 ODI World Cup. It’ll be in India, so I’ll get good food, which is very important (laughs).”

Before signing off, we asked her about her favorite food. She said –

“Home-cooked food, but if we’re talking about junk food, there are quite a few tough choices. Bhalla papdi is a definite favorite. I’ve got a select shop, and only eat there. There’s just no chance of eating elsewhere.”

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