Two three-wicket-hauls, one player of the match award and four crucial wickets in the final game of the Women’s Emerging Asia Cup have led Tanuja Kanwar, the Shimla born bowler, to become an emerging player to watch out for.
Here’s Tanuja, in an exclusive chat with Female Cricket talking about the tournament experience, family, future plans and her love for South Indian movies!
Tell us something about your childhood days and how you were introduced to cricket?
I was always interested in sports and particularly cricket. I used to initially play with the boys in my locality, until 2011. That’s when my father thought I should join an academy and learn professionally and we started looking for one. I joined HCC Academy in Dharmashala. I was around 14-15 years of age at that time. I got to represent the state U19 team in the same year and the next year, in 2012, I got to play for the senior state team.
Hailing from a small town in Shimla, did you face any challenges? What were those?
Yes, there were times when I had no idea where the trials are held, initially, we didn’t even know that there are even separate academies that coach only girls or if there even was a team. But I’ve been lucky because my father was super supportive. He found out everything for me and that made things easier.
You started as a medium-pacer and bowl spin now, how did the plan change along the way?
I remember we were just practicing in the nets when Pawan sir (academy coach) came to me and said “why don’t you try spin bowling?” and so I did. That worked out better for me. I turned out to be a better spinner than a pacer so I have been bowling spin ever since.
How has Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) contributed in your journey?
Everyone at HPCA has been very supportive of me and my career. Anurag (Thakur) sir and all the coaches, everyone, they have always had my back.
Do you think your journey would’ve been any different if you hailed from a bigger city with better facilities?
No, I don’t think so. HPCA has grown so much over the years and shown a lot of progress. They support their players very well. So I am very satisfied with the facilities provided here in Himachal Pradesh.
How do you deal with pressure situations?
I was very nervous in the initial few games I played for India A, but talking with senior players helped. They’ve experienced it all before I have so when they share their experiences and how they deal or have dealt with difficult situations, it makes you feel less anxious. Sushma (Verma) di was very supportive, she guided me before games and that certainly helped me deal with pressure.
What has been your best cricketing memory thus far?
Definitely getting India A cap. But getting the Team India cap – nothing would be better than that!
You’ve had an amazing outing at the recently concluded Emerging Asia Cup, some moments from the tournament that will stick with you?
The Emerging Asia Cup final was amazing, every over felt like an amazing moment, we had to defend a low total and the way Devika and I bowled was too good. We did not take the pressure and enjoyed every over and ultimately went on to win the game for the team. It was a momentous day.
As you said, you’ve always been into sports. Apart from cricket what sport did you play?
I played almost all sports in school. You see, that’s what you do when you aren’t good at studies (laughs). I played Badminton and Volleyball at the district level but ultimately ended up choosing cricket as the sport I wanted to make a profession.
Apart from cricket, what else do you enjoy? Are you a movie buff?
I am not that into Bollywood but I do love watching South Indian films (laughs). They are so much fun to watch! I don’t really know the actors and their names but I love watching the movies and watch them often.
When you initially started playing, were you subjected to societal pressures?
I never faced any issue from the society, everyone from my village supported me, in fact, they told my dad to send me to play cricket since I was more interested in that. Everyone around me was very supportive
Who do you admire as cricketers?
From the women’s team, Smriti Mandhana is my favorite. I got an opportunity to play alongside her in the Board President’s XI game that was held in Mumbai, she was leading the team. I also really like Yuvraj Singh. From the current men’s team, I like Rohit Sharma.
Career-wise, what is your ultimate goal?
As of now, to wear the Indian jersey definitely. I hope that happens soon!
How do you think Women’s Cricket can be further promoted in India?
In my opinion, academies should be opened at village levels. Not everyone has the financial capacity to move to cities for coaching. I think when the grassroots development will take place, things will start changing automatically.
Have you read about Female Cricket? Do you have any suggestions?
Female Cricket is doing very well since you have started the Instagram page, I have seen it. You guys are supporting every player very well and doing a good job.
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