Ahead of the Red Bull Campus Cricket final between Rizvi College, Mumbai and Gargi College, New Delhi, Suhail Chandhok, and Snehal Pradhan hosted Smriti Mandhana, Tanisha Gaikwad and Tanya for a tête-à-tête.
During their conversation, when asked about her early days in cricket, Smriti said, “Back then, there was not much school or college or club cricket. I used to play in an academy where I was the only girl. I played my first professional cricket match for Maharashtra state. With tournaments such as Red Bull Campus Cricket, it is great that the young girls of today are getting the opportunity to play the game at a professional level. Tournaments like these will help the women’s cricket grow at the grassroots level.”
This is Red Bull Campus Cricket’s 10th year, but for the first time, the tournament saw women’s matches being played.
Tanisha, captain of Rizvi College, added, “I started playing cricket from the eighth standard. I studied at Sharadashram and I was a part of the school cricket team that played at the state and national levels. After completing my schooling, I played cricket for my college. Later I was selected to play for Mumbai U-19.”
Tanya, captain of Gargi College, said, “In Delhi too, we have inter-collegiate tournaments. I started playing cricket from my 11th standard. In the very first match that I played, I scored a 50. I also represent Haryana at the state level and open the batting with Shafali Verma.”
Just like Smriti, Tanisha and Tanya, are both left-hand batters.
Expressing her thoughts on Red Bull Campus Cricket for women, Tanya said, “Red Bull Campus Cricket is a great opportunity for girls representing their colleges. We had three matches in Delhi and post COVID-19, this was the first tournament that I played. Just like me, all my teammates were equally excited to play cricket after a long break.” Tanisha added, “Yes, it is a good platform for the girls to showcase their talent. I am happy that we got a chance to play cricket at a higher level and I am glad that we have reached the finals.”
Apart from discussing Red Bull Campus Cricket, Smriti was asked about the recently concluded multi-format series in Australia and also about her favourite cricketing venues. Smriti said, “There were a lot of positives from the tour. Though we lost the series, there is no doubt that we played some good cricket. Rain played spoilsport on a couple of occasions. Debutants like Meghana, Renuka, and Yastika were good. In the recent past, we had contributions with the bat from our lower order, which is great to see. Personally, I like this multi-format series. There is everything to play for till the very last match of the series. Also playing day-night Test was like a dream come true. I hope we get to play more and more Tests in the future.”
India’s opening bat further added, “I love playing in New Zealand and Australia. They offer good wickets which brings up an intriguing contest between bat and ball.”
Right from her childhood, Smriti’s family has been her pillar of strength. She said, “My parents and brother were very supportive. It was their dream that I play for India someday. I am happy that I could realize their dream and through that I am able to give the best life to my family.”
Before signing off, Smriti said, “The transition from youth cricket to international cricket can be made smooth with the help of tournaments such as Red Bull Campus Cricket. Back then, we didn’t have such tournaments. For me the transition was smooth but it took me a few international matches to get used to the higher standards. I owe a lot of credit to senior players like Jhulan di and Mithali di for making me comfortable at the international level.”
Snehal, a former India player, added, “Having someone who helps you to make the transition is important. We all saw how Meghana, Richa, Yastika and Renuka grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Also Shafali for that matter. This suggests that the environment in the Indian dressing room is conducive. As a coach, I tell the girls that learn from every member in the dressing room. This will not only help you grow as a player but also help you develop a rapport with them.
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