For someone as athletic as Sushma Verma,from a remote village named Gadheri near Shimla,she was a hit in the handball and volleyball circles. But after she turned 16,she shunned the handball shorts to don white flannels of cricket.
Now at 20,her decision has worked wonders for wicket-keeper batswoman,as Sushma has become first woman cricketer to have been selected in the Indian womens cricket team for a series against Bangladesh.
Her selection,also marks Himachal Pradesh Cricket Associations (HPCA) success at promoting womens cricket. HPCA chief Anurag Thakur along with associations secretary Vishal Marwaha had came up with an idea of a residential academy in Kangra few years back. When the trials were conducted,hordes of girls came. A year after,the academy shifted to HPCA headquarters in Dharamsala,with improved facilities. Cricketers under the age of 19 years,were selected for the academy,from which Sushma was also one. The same year,HP girls team won the U-19 title,and earned accolades.
Sushma idolizes Australian great Adam Gilchrist. Her grandfather,who was a footballer in his younger days,encouraged her to take up cricket.
It was the HP coach Pawan Sen who noticed Sushmas cricket skills during the Kangra academy trials and took her under his wings. The residential academy in Dharamsala changed the scenario of the sport in HP and Sushma became the face of women cricket in the hills.
A student of MCM DAV College for Women in Kangra,Sushma,wants to cement a place in the Indian team. At the time when The Indian Express got in touch with her,she was training at the Dharamsala ground. She said,It was sad to see India eves lose in the World Cup early in the tournament.
I want to keep working hard on my cricket and deliver the goods when given a chance. I want to be a regular member of national team. It was difficult to make the people understand here that women can also play cricket,I hope in future that the scene changes. Apart from her,there is another wicket-keeper,Anagha Deshpande,in the squad for Bangladesh.
Meanwhile,HPCA president,Anurag Thakur heaped praises on Sushma.
This has been possible by her hard work and all the facilities and training being provided by HPCA to the players, Thakur,who is also the joint secretary of BCCI,said.