Crisp cover drives, stylish cuts, authoritative pulls, incisive yorkers, intimidating bouncers, and acrobatic catches. If you thought these were the aspects of only a men’s game of cricket, maybe it’s time you do some serious exploration; the time you floor yourself by witnessing the skills of Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur, Jhulan Goswami, Ellyse Perry, Nat Sciver, Lizelle Lee, and many more fabulous women cricketers. While the names mentioned have turned into shining lights of international cricket, a bunch of young guns is rearing to fire on all cylinders when opportunities present themselves. Closer home, in Vizag, the cricketing fraternity has hopes particularly pinned on two bright talents. Teja Kovvali interacts with Durga and Pushpalatha, two young cricketers from Vizag, who aspire to don the national colours.
A solid wicketkeeper-batswoman taking rapid strides in domestic circles. Training at the cricket academy in Vizag since 2011, the 21-year-old credits her coaches and the infrastructure in place for her growth as a player.
“My father used to work at the stadium. Inspired by the development of women cricketers back then, he joined me at the academy, with the hope of watching me prosper into a proper cricketer,” Durga shares. And backed by her family and senior players over the years, Durga has certainly made a case for herself to be called a proper cricketer.
Impressing everyone with her game, the spirited young woman even represented India Green in the Women’s U19 Challenger series. Aspiring to emerge as the best wicketkeeper in the country, Durga is a woman on a mission. Training hard at the nets day in and day out, she is currently in the pursuit of her dream to play for India. And given her skill and commitment to the sport, the day she makes it to the dream squad shouldn’t be far away.
Favourite shots: Slog sweep, cut, pull
Cricketers she idolises: Poonam Raut, MS Dhoni
When Pushpalatha began playing cricket, she was picked as a bowler as not many encouraged her batting talent. As fate would have it, the 20-year-old is one of Andhra’s strongest batswomen today. “I took my first steps to cricket as a 12-year-old. Even though I was fond of batting back then, I was given chances as a bowler. As days progressed, a few coaches spotted my capabilities with the bat, while training at VDCA,” she shares.
Taking note of Pushpalatha’s potential with the bat, the selectors promoted her up the order in a match that soon followed. Grabbing the opportunity with both hands, the talented player struck a memorable 70 in the match as there has been no looking back since then. Cementing her spot in the top order, Pushpalatha has been consistently racking up runs for her teams. In 2019, she stood as Andhra’s highest run-getter in all India U19 and the fourth-highest run-getter overall.
While the coronavirus-pandemic caused a brief halt in her progress, she is back in the thick of things once again. Representing Andhra Pradesh in U23 seniors right now, Pushpalatha is a confident young woman. Telling us that her batting and bowling have been going on the right track, she is keen on excelling in the upcoming games. Working hard at her game, Pushpalatha’s next goal is to make it to Andhra’s U23 seniors. Following this, she aims to make the cut to the seniors’ Challenger series. And if her rich vein of form continues to make waves in these tournaments too, she could soon be on the list of Indian women cricketers the world has to watch out for.
Favourite shots: Cover drive, step out and drive
Cricketers she idolises: Harmanpreet Kaur, her father (who was a club-level cricketer in Vizag)