What was to be a 12-minute interaction between India’s World Cup runners-up women’s cricket team and Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned out to be an hour and a half long sessions that had questions, answers, recollections, advice and lots of laughs. Over evening snacks at 7, Race Course road, on Thursday, Modi got asked about his time management skills, his high energy levels and also his designer. The PM, in turn, wanted to know why the team looked so glum during the last few overs of the chase against England.
After breaking the ice by asking everyone in the room to clap for the team that narrowly lost the final to England by 9 runs, Modi said he, like rest of the country was glued to the action from Lord’s on July 23. He went on to ask the team’s pace spearhead Jhulan Goswami why she looked so tense during the dramatic climax when the team was inching closer to the winning target. The PM observed that had the team cheered the batting pair on the pitch, they would have got more runs. He brought smiles to the faces of his guests when he said, they had won the hearts of the nation and how their performance had turned them into household names over the last few weeks.
Opener Poonam Raut, who had a top score of 86 in the final, said getting an invitation from the PM showed that women’s cricket was getting its due recognition. “He told us a lot of motivational things. We also had some questions for him. He asked him about how he handles the pressure of ruling the country. He replied that meditation and yoga were a big help. He told us ‘aap haarne ka dukh mat karo, aapne pura desh ka dil jeet liya hai’,” Raut said.
Some others quizzed him about how he finds the energy to work for long hours. Modi said that he never skips a yoga session. Even on long flights while traveling around the world, he sticks to his yoga schedule. Captain Mithali Raj wanted to know how the PM manages his time. The PM recommended yoga sessions for the team, saying it will help them to enhance their concentration. Playing chess was a routine, he said, players should follow since this would help the cricketers strategize better and deal with tense moments more calmly.
However, it was a question by Indian cricket’s new superstar, Harmanpreet Kaur, that saw the PM break into a smile. She wanted to know if the PM had a special designer. Modi is learnt to have said that he didn’t have a designer as he still relied on a tailor in Ahmedabad who has been making his clothes for years now. He went on to add that his tailor would charge only Rs 20-25 back in the day but how his charges have increased significantly of late.
Modi then also recalled his own struggles in the early days, about how he would have to wash his own clothes and recalled how painful it would be to deal with the long sleeves on his kurta. And to avoid that he shortened the sleeves. Another interesting question was from a player with politicial ambitions and her desire to be CM one day. Modi is said to have replied that if she had decided to hang up her boots, he would have sent his party’s representative to her place. The evening would end with group pictures, selfies and a promise. “He’d said that we’ll meet again but when you come back having won the World Cup,” recalls Raut.