We look at a person and see the success and never know all the hard work it took and the challenges faced behind the scenes to achieve that. Ayushi’s story is one such story.
From her father standing up for her against the joint family that opposed her making a career in cricket, to losing 20 kilos in 6 months to improve as a cricketer, here’s Delhi cricketer and India B skipper Ayushi Soni, in an exclusive chat with Female Cricket.
At what age did you start playing cricket?
I started playing cricket at the age of 12. My dad used to play cricket as well, he played at the university level. My brother started playing before me and looking at him, I took interest and started playing as well.
Tell us something about your childhood days and how you were introduced to cricket?
I never followed cricket before I started playing it. As I said, I started playing looking at my brother and joined an academy to take it forward.
Were you always a sportsperson?
Not really, cricket was pretty much the only sport I was ever interested in or got into.
How was the experience of leading India B and winning the trophy?
It was a great experience! Playing at a level bigger than the state level is something different in itself. I loved it, even the players were very good. The atmosphere of the tournament was something very different, unlike anything that I had experienced before.
What has been the best moment in your cricketing career so far?
2 years back when Delhi won the T20 games, it was my first match and we were playing against the Railways. We needed 2 runs off the last ball and Ekta Bisht was bowling to me. I hit a six off that last bowl and we won the game. That is one of the most memorable moments for me. I had never expected that something like that would happen.
When did you get into domestic cricket after first joining the academy at the age of 12?
I had met Sunita ma’am, who is like my family member, she introduced me to the Delhi team. Initially, I didn’t even know that there’s something called ‘women’s cricket’! Ma’am was the one who introduced me to all of this. I gave my U19 selections first and in the same year I got selected to be a part of the team, but I didn’t get to play. I was in the squad and I traveled with the team. Being with the team was a learning experience as well.
How has DDCA contributed to your career?
They have been very helpful with the changes and opportunities they gave me. Like in U-19, as a new player I was given an opportunity to bat up the order and gave me a chance to lead the team too. Recently, they gave me the captainship of the U-23 team as well. They have been very supportive.
Anyone in particular from DDCA that you’d like to mention who has been of support?
Reema (Malhotra) di has been very supportive. We talk a lot about cricket and if I need any tips or guidance before a game or in general, she explains as to what can be done. So when it’s about the game, I follow her. Even Anjum (Chopra) di has been supportive of me.
Who are your cricketing idols/role models?
Professionally, I like how Reema di’s mind is on the field. I like how she leads the team and handles pressure situations. I want to adopt these qualities from here and implement them in my game.
Apart from cricket, what do you enjoy doing off the field?
I like hanging out and chatting with my friends when I am not playing. I watch Bollywood movies as well in my free time.
Career-wise, what is your ultimate goal?
As of now, to play for Team India. My age is less right now I haven’t really thought of what I’d like to achieve after that (laughs)
What is something that cricket has taught you?
I’ve learned that when there’s a downfall, you shouldn’t consider yourself weak. If a bad phase doesn’t come, you’ll never see and appreciate the good things. So even the bad phases are important.
What role has your family played in your journey?
Initially, we had a joint family. Not everyone was very supportive. They used to tell my dad “She’s a girl, why are you making her play? There’s no career ahead”. My dad stood up for me even if it meant separating from them. My dad wanted to make a career in cricket but couldn’t do so. He saw that talent in me and hence supported me. When there’s a downfall he has my back. Even when everyone is criticizing me, he says it’s okay and supports me. Everyone from my family has been very supportive.
How did you create a balance between cricket and academics?
Until 10th grade, we made this arrangement of me going to school 3 days a week and for practice on the other 3 days. After 10th, we spoke to the school and then I didn’t have to go. Every time I had to take a leave, I just had to submit a letter so that became easy.
How do you think women’s cricket can be further promoted in India?
I think new players should be given more opportunities. And the junior players should be groomed in the senior teams, that’s something I think would help.
Anything you’d like to share that you think will motivate the young girls just starting out as cricketers?
In 2017, I had a good season and scored many runs, but whenever I didn’t, it was because of weight. I weighed 80 kilos back then. I decided that I had to change that. I hired a personal trainer and worked hard. Within 6 months, I lost 20 kilos!
What do you think about our initiative – Female Cricket? We would appreciate your suggestions.
I follow your page ☺ you are doing very well. You guys update everything before time, you don’t need improvement at all (laughs).
To learn more about women’s cricket, do read this book “Rising Spell in Women’s Cricket” by Mukta Goyal. You can buy a copy from Amazon. Click here to buy