As a cricket lover, Sudesh Sharma, father of Chandigarh pacer Kashvee Gautam, would often see international cricket matches at the Sharjah International Stadium, UAE, on television at their Sector 37 home.
On Sunday, as 17-year-old Gautam was selected in the Smriti Mandhana-led Trailblazers team for the Women’s T-20 Challenge to be held in UAE from November 4 to November 9, Sharma was busy in helping his daughter packing her bags for Mumbai, where the Indian women cricketers would assemble prior to their departure to Dubai on October 22.
It was an emotional moment for the father-daughter duo and Gautam sounded ecstatic over her selection for the tournament, a thing which had come after she took 83 wickets and made 434 runs in different formats in her debut season for UTCA last season. Apart from Gautam, Indian cricketers Taniya Bhatia (Chandigarh) and Harleen Deol (Mohali) were also chosen for the tournament.
“It’s a special feeling for me as I used to watch the previous editions of the women’s T20 Challenge on television and would dream about being a part of the tournament one day. I have been a big fan of Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur and Trailblazers captain Smriti Mandhana apart from Jemmiah Rodrigues. If I get to take wickets of Harman di and Jemmiah in Dubai, it will be a special moment for me. While we will remain in quarantine in Mumbai for a week before our departure, playing in the bio-bubble in Dubai will be a new experience for all of us,” said Gautam, who is a standard XII student at GMSSS-26 (Timber market).
Gautam, who would initially play gully cricket with the boys in her locality, was spotted by former first class cricketer Sanjay Dhull, a friend of Sharma. Dhull got the youngster enrolled under coach Nagesh Gupta in 2016. While Gautam would play for Punjab U-16, U-19 and U-23 teams, last year saw the pacer shift to UTCA. Gautam claimed 14 wickets in the BCCI U-23 T20 trophy early last season before her exploits in the BCCI U-19 one day and BCCI U-23 trophy. In the U-19 one day trophy, Gautam claimed 35 wickets, including a record 10-wicket haul in an innings against Arunachal Pradesh in February this season, the youngster also claimed 31 wickets in the U-23 Trophy before the quarter-finals of the tournament got postponed due to Covid.
“Making the shift to Chandigarh helped me as I was the first choice pacer and also was given opportunity to bat high in the order. The BCCI U-19 and U-23 tournaments gave me an opportunity to bowl at different venues and it helped me to be consistent. I was looking forward to playing in the U-23 one day quarterfinals before Covid forced all cricketing activities to stop. Initially I focused on my fitness before I worked on improving my run-up and batting stance under my coach Nagesh sir. The pitches at Sharjah, where the matches are expected to be played, are flat and I have to rely upon variations for getting wickets,” said Gautam, who is a fan of Hobart Hurricanes in Women’s Big Bash League of Australia.
Coach Nagesh Gupta believes that Gautam has the perfect game for the T20 format and her utility as a batswoman will also come in handy for the Trailblazers team. Gautam had amassed 281 runs, including two half-centuries in BCCI U-19 one day trophy.
“After the lockdown, she spent a lot of time on her fitness and basics. When the academy opened, we spent time on getting braced front leg as it helps in generating more pace. It can come in handy in UAE and Kashvee is very good in hitting ground strokes. We also spent time on getting her head position right while batting and it has improved her batting,” said Gupta, who is a BCCI Level-II certified coach.
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