Arundhati Reddy was raised by a single mother and Radha Yadav is the daughter of a vegetable vendor. Meanwhile, Shafali Varma broke patriarchal norms, cut her hair and disguised herself as a boy all for the love of cricket
In the history of women’s cricket, never has a stadium sold a record-shattering 75,000 tickets! Call it a miracle or a sign, the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup has proved that cricket is no longer a male-dominated sport.
The upcoming finals will be played between India and four-time champions Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The power-packed team, led by captain Harmanpreet Kaur, entered the finals after beating England in the semi-final.
It will be the maiden T20 World Cup final for the women in blue and what makes the match more special is that it will be held on 8 March, which is International Women’s Day.
Considering that cricket is a religion in India and the male counterparts have shown exceptional performances in the past, it is definitely a proud moment for the country to see the women shining bright.
As we move towards the much-anticipated final match, here’s a look at five cricket players who smashed gender stereotypes, overcame struggles and made everyone proud:
1) Shafali Verma
Rohtak-born Shafali Verma is known for her hard-hitting technique to cross all kinds of boundaries, on and off-field, but she grew up playing cricket in a region where girls were not encouraged to play outdoor games, let alone get professional training.
Refusing to give up her dream, the young girl cut her hair and disguised herself as a boy—all for the love of cricket.
Today, at 16, she is the youngest player in the Indian cricket team and is also the third-highest scorer in the World Cup.
Did you know she has broken Sachin Tendulkar’s record? Read more here.
2) Veda Krishnamurthy
The daughter of a cable operator, Veda Krishnamurthy, who made her debut in 2011, also comes from humble beginnings.
She moved to Bengaluru from Chikmagalur at 13 after her first coach, Irfan Sait spotted her talent. Staying away from parents alone was not easy.
After years of perseverance combined with a determination to play international cricket, Veda landed herself a secured job in the Railways.
Though she worked for the Railways, her heart always belonged to cricket. Leaving the job to pursue her dreams was probably the toughest decision she had to make.
“When it came to my career as well as my personal life, it was a huge decision that I took. A job is something you can fall back on if nothing works out. At the same time, it came to a point where I decided, ‘Not any more.’ I needed some kind of freedom, that comfort level and that happiness you get. I decided to take up what makes me happy now,” she told Sportstar.
3) Radha Yadav
She may be only 19, but Radha Yadav does not spare her opposition. In the cricket match between India and Sri Lanka, the Mumbai-based youngster took four wickets which helped the team reach the World Cup semi-finals.
Hailed as a bowling all-rounder, she is a left-arm spinner who started her cricketing career with a group of building boys and a tennis ball.
Like millions, she grew up watching the men’s cricket team garner laurels and dreamed of becoming a cricket player as well. But her lower-middle-class family residing in Kandivali had no means to send their daughter for professional training.
And then Praful Naik, her first coach, entered her life. She was only 12 when Naik spotted her playing gully cricket and decided that she had real talent which needed to be honed.
Naik not only took the responsibility of sending her to a school which has a cricket but team but also coached her.
Radha made her cricket debut in 2018 for the senior Indian team and has not looked back since.
4) Taniya Bhatia
The Chandigarh resident was only 7 when she started her training in cricket after her father and uncle–who were professional cricketers–identified her bowling and batting prowess and enrolled her in an academy.
Four years later, Taniya was selected for the U-19 state team and she was the youngest player at 11.
Taniya’s journey until 2015 was a steady and progressive one. She even captained the U-19 North Zone and scored an impressive 227 runs in a match. However, the next two years were difficult for her. She lost her spot in the State team, and could not play the 2017 World Cup.
As per reports, the 22-year-old fell into depression after she was unable to face the rejections, and began to wonder if her cricket career was over. However, her parents refused to give up and helped her overcome the tough time. Their support worked, and she made her ODI debut in 2018 against Sri Lanka.
Today, she is fondly referred to as ‘pocket dynamite’ by her fellow teammates.
In the ongoing World Cup, she has taken five catches and done three stumpings from just three matches. In fact, her phenomenal performance behind the stumps is the talk of the town and cricket buffs are even comparing her skills with former skipper, MS Dhoni.
5) Arundhati Reddy
Raised by a single mother, Arundhati Reddy from Hyderabad is known for her deadly bouncers and speedy deliveries.
Her first encounter with the sport was with her brother, Rohit. Like most, her career too began with playing gully cricket.
It was her mother, Bhagya, who supported her when Arundhati expressed her passion for male-dominated sport, something that is very rare to see.
“I was very good at my studies, but after I started playing professionally, my marks slipped. But not once did my mother push me to score better than other students. She has been very supportive,” she told The News Minute.
Arundhati, a fast bowler, played her first international match against Sri Lanka in September 2018. Since then she has been a constant in the team, and so far she has played 14 T20 international matches.
In a country that is filled with century-old customs that are not in favour of women, it is not easy to break ceilings. Kudos and only the best of wishes for these women in blue, whose hard work will surely take them very far in life.
Featured Image Source: Radha Yadav/Twitter