SEVEN YEARS ago, Chandigarh cricketer Taniya Bhatia had created history by becoming the youngest woman cricketer to play for the Punjab senior team at the national level. On Tuesday, the 20-year-old wicket-keeper batswoman was named in the 16-member Indian women’s cricket team for the three-match ODI series against South Africa to be held there next month.
“It’s a new start for me as I was eagerly waiting for this opportunity for a long time. I had some good seasons earlier but had a low patch in between and missed the Indian team for last year’s World Cup. But being in the probables camp for the World Cup helped my game a lot. Sushma didi is the main wicket-keeper in the team and if I get a chance, I will aim to perform to my best. South Africa has bouncy pitches and the ball comes hard on the bat. So, I need to practise keeping in mind the conditions in South Africa. We will have a training camp, too, and I will aim for a good performance in the Indian colours,” said Bhatia, who currently studies BA-II at MCM DAV College for Women, Sector 36.
Bhatia started playing cricket at the age of seven and also trained under former Indian cricketer and Yuvraj Singh’s father Yograj Singh at DAV Senior Secondary School, Sector 8. She created history when she became the youngest player at the age of 13 to play for the senior Punjab team in the inter-state domestic tournament in 2011. The youngster was a regular feature in the Punjab senior team and even captained the U-19 North Zone side in the inter-zonal cricket tournament in Guwahati in 2015 where she also scored 227 runs and accounted for 10 dismissals. The youngster was also named among the 30 probables for the Indian team for last year’s World Cup. She also played for India A against Bangladesh last November before she scored three half centuries in the U-23 inter-zonal tournament. “The three half-centuries in the U-23 inter-zonal tournament boosted my confidence. Playing against the Bangladesh A side also helped my game. Although I will be playing under Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet didi in the Indian team for the first time, I have played with them before. Harmanpreet didi used to tell me that I will come into the Indian team one day and also told me to concentrate on my batting. Punjab coach RP Singh sir also helped me a lot,” said Bhatia, who also studied at DAV Model School, Sector 15.
Taniya’s father, Sanjay Bhatia (48), branch manager at Central Bank of India, Sector 44, also played cricket at the all India university level. Taniya is the second of three siblings between elder sister Sanjana and younger brother Sehaj. “ What I could not achieve my daughter has achieved today. She was seven years old when she started playing cricket and my wife Sapna would drop and pick her from the Sector 8 Academy daily and later from the Sector 36 Academy. Today’s selection is the reward for all those efforts.”
R P Singh said, “I talked with her today and it is a perfect time for her to play for India. She has been concentrating on her batting and also showed her wicket-keeping abilities for India A and the challenger series.