On Saturday, the BCCI announced the women’s ODI and T20I squad for the upcoming series of South Africa starting March 7 in Lucknow. The squads did throw some surprises as regular names like Shikha Pandey, Ekta Bisht, and Taniya Bhatia were not part of the list.
Though Ekta Bisht from Uttarakhand did not make the cut, there was another player from the same state, who made it to the Indian national squad. She is Sweta Verma. Sweta is a 24-year old wicket-keeper bat, who is selected in the Indian ODI squad. She will be a part of the Indian dressing room for the five-match ODI series.
Coming from a humble background, Sweta lost her father quite early when she was just a teenager. After her father’s demise, her mother, an Anganwadi worker, toiled to meet both ends. The wicket-keeper bat was coached by Liyakat Ali Khan in Almora. “We took care of her finances as back then, it was her mother who was the sole breadwinner of her family. We spotted her talent in wicket-keeping as she was quick. After coaching her in Almora, we later shifted her to Kashipur for advance coaching, especially in wicket-keeping,” said Khan.
The Almora-based professional coach told the Times of India that Sweta had to relocate to Uttar Pradesh in order to pursue a career in cricket since Uttarakhand did not have a BCCI-affiliated state cricket association back then.
“She has been playing for the UP domestic side for five years now. In 2018, Uttarakhand started participating in the BCCI domestic tournaments but we decided to let her stay in UP since the UPCA had supported her a lot. Also, relocating her at that time would have been a bad decision careerwise,” said Khan.
Her selection in the Indian team speaks volumes of Sweta’s hard work. She would be rearing to have a crack and would be looking to make the most of any opportunity that comes her away. There is no doubt that rubbing shoulders with the likes of Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami would be a great learning experience for her.
The article was first published in the Times of India
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.