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EXCLUSIVE: “I Want To Enjoy The Game, And Play Instinctively” – Disha Kasat Shares Her Plan For WPL 2024

Disha Kasat has already established herself in the cricketing world with consistent and remarkable showings in the domestic arena as a reliable middle-order batter. Picture this. In the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy, Disha was at her attacking best raking 263 runs at 43.83, striking at 127.05 and a high score of 89 for Vidarbha.

Her clinical knocks helped her team largely and in this season of the Women’s Premier League playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the youngster has much to prove.

In an all-exclusive and candid chat with Neha Shetty of Women’s CricInsight, here’s what the swashbuckling batter had to say:

You’re coming on the back of a good domestic season and have also played for India A. So, how have you been feeling cricket-wise?

Disha: It’s going on really well, I can say that. The first year of WPL was special and there was a lot of excitement for all the small things. There is still excitement, but I can say ahead of this season, I’m more stable and feel normal. I have this feeling of belongingness here. So that’s awesome.

How was the previous season of the Women’s Premier League? And how would you describe the RCB ecosystem considering this is your second season at the franchise?

Disha: Back in the first season, we were coming up from the domestic and the WPL has a close standard and is on par with international cricket. WPL be a bridge that will be between domestic and international cricket. This year, and probably even in the next year, all the cricketers, especially the domestic players will come in with more confidence because they have already had a taste of it. It is the same with me.

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So, in my first year with RCB, I was very excited because there was so much to learn from. And this season, I know what needs to be done. We had a camp in the off-season for 45 days the management took care of the players and the physios were always in touch. The coaches were always already in always in the loop of what needed to be done, and what would help take your domestic side as well as the RCB side to the next level.

And I will say that I’m so grateful to be the RCB. If I had had the option to choose a franchise (and I have said this before), I would have said RCB any day and now that I’ve got that and I’m really grateful for it.

Disha with her teammates. [Image: Getty]
Disha with her teammates. [Image: Getty]
Looking at last season, RCB had mixed fortunes. Not having the most ideal start but as the season progressed, you could find yourself. How would you describe the turnaround and this time having a good start will be crucial?

Disha: Oh, yeah, definitely! What happens is, once you get a good start, it’s very easy for you to construct a building on that, if you can see it like that. It’s cricket, you don’t know what’s going to happen. You always try your best to start well and sometimes it works well and sometimes it doesn’t go the way we expect. But we always prepare for the best.

So I’m, personally just looking to be more present in the camp (happening currently), enjoy my batting and just take the boxes before going into the WPL and let’s see what happens because we don’t know what to expect and we always prepare for the best. I don’t know what’s going to happen but definitely, this season is going to be a very impactful one.

Last season, you also had a chance to interact with Virat Kohli. How would you describe that interaction and the impact it had on the girls?

That was really a fan moment for me! Throughout my life, I never had a picture with any of the cricketers and I never felt like it. I felt for Dhoni only when I was in Ranchi. But he was there for some of the games. But when I saw him (Virat Kohli), it was a surprise for us. No one of us knew about it and we just were there for a team meeting and then he joined it. He came in and we all were like, oh wow, because that was a surprise for us. and we all thought it was the best surprise we ever got.

RCB Women the stalwart of men's cricket, Virat Kohli. [Image: RCB]
RCB Women the stalwart of men’s cricket, Virat Kohli. [Image: RCB]
Then he started talking about his journey, his life. And for him, it’s important to give you 100% and it doesn’t matter how things go, sometimes it might go your way, sometimes it doesn’t go your way. But what an RCB fan will always remember is if as a player you’re giving your 100% and that matters the most.

READ MORE: WPL 2024: Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) – SWOT Analysis

He added that they (RCB fans) will always back you and they’ll always back the good cricket. So don’t worry, or don’t take pressure. He said, “I have been in that thing (pressure), but it doesn’t give us anything, but to accept all these emotions we are going through and stand up and give more than 100% is crucial.”

And then we won two games after that. It was a very good conversation and him saying that it’s okay to have all of these emotions was crucial. His being there for us when we lost the games back-to-back, shows his character. Like not being there for the team when you are at the highest, but picking up the team even at the lowest, that was amazing to have heard from him.

Do you have any goals or aspirations for the season and thoughts on role clarity this season?

Disha: We had the meeting of goals clarification and it is important to understand that everyone has to be flexible because it’s a T20 tournament. Whether you will bat at the top or in the middle (order) sometimes you might used as the best pillar of the team.

In focus ft. Disha Kasat. [Image: RCB]
In focus ft. Disha Kasat. [Image: RCB]
RCB’s mantra is to play bold, and we will make bold decisions. We should be ready for that and wherever the team wants us, we should be ready to fulfil that job. The think tank is giving us enough match simulations to do that.

As a player, I am ready for all the roles and my goal for the season is to give more than 100% and help the team in any way I can. The ultimate aim is to win the Cup or win the matches whether it be batting, be it my fielding or in any manner I can. So that’s the only goal- giving more than my 100% and playing impactful fearless cricket out there this season.

With the WPL all set to get underway in less than a week, do you have any pre-match routine or certain mindset and strategies that you kind of put in play before you get started?

Disha: My match routines are similar, whether we play for domestic or whether we play for WPL or whether I play for India- it doesn’t change. It’s important to understand that it should not change because just a game of cricket, at the end of the day. The moment you start shifting that okay this is an IPL game I have to do well and this is it and that is the extra baggage you put on yourself.

So, I prepare for all the games in the same way. My mindset is the same for all the games so I have a few pre-match routines that I do like. I like to get my body warmed up for the T20 games and get pumped up. Gym sessions helped me calm myself so there are a few things, I tried to do to be in a good space mentally, physically and feeling good about myself that’s all.

READ MORE: WPL 2024: UP Warriorz (UPW) – SWOT Analysis

How would you describe playing under Smriti Mandhana?

Disha: She (Smriti Mandhana) is someone who has always been supportive. She has been the backbone of support for all the players even when we were not at our best as a team. She is always someone who we can go to at any point in time She always seeks ways of how we can get better as a team and she has been very supportive. She faces the challenges head-on and having her in the team gives you that freedom to play your game. She will always back you no matter what.

Even this year, she felt that they were just coming out of the World Cup and that they didn’t have enough time for the domestic players to gel around so we had a few video calls just to know each other’s progress and how’s it going during the domestic season. She played in the domestic season this year to acclimatise to playing on the Indian pitches.

I met her during the domestic when we were playing against Maharashtra and she came up and told me, “You’re doing well just keep going and play fearlessly. Don’t worry about the consequences”. And that’s so good to hear from her.

The RCB team also has superstars like Sophie Devine, Ellyse Perry, and Kate Cross among many bonafide legends in the team. How much are you looking forward to interacting and rubbing shoulders with these veterans?

Disha: Definitely, I am looking forward. It is always good to share experiences. And it’s always good to learn, learn from them, hear from them about their perspective of the game. Maybe sometimes a small thing might help you in your game to take it to the next level. We have conversations on and off the field and they guide us on what needs to be done. And sometimes it’s these fun moments that stay. Overall, I would say it is a good jell-up among the players and the staff.

Are there any teammates you are looking forward to re-unite with, here at RCB?

Disha: Shreyu (referring to Shreyanka Patil) is already here. We were there in the AI camps also together and even Smriti. We are a group who wants to be together, play together and have some fun out there. So as a unit, I’m looking forward to meeting everyone have fun. I think these are the moments you carry with you. You will remember it throughout your lifetime, so I am looking forward to it.

How do you feel about the increased visibility and support that women’s cricket has been getting in recent years and how would you look at this evolution?

Disha: In the last few years, it (women’s cricket) has evolved very much and the WPL is the platform that will take it to the next level. At the end of the day, this is what we play for, we play for the people. I got to experience during the India A games where people came and cheered for us- whether we were losing or whether we were winning. They were always there and that is the support you always need.

I am grateful that in one of the games in the men’s IPL, I came last year to watch RCB vs RR in Chinnaswamy. At that moment, I felt I wanted to experience this crowd when I’m here the next time. I’m grateful that the WPL is happening in Bangalore and we got our RCB fan base for the women’s (game) as well.

I know that they’re going to be there for us as well. Because I see we (RCB) are the most loyal fans, because we got a good crowd even while playing in Mumbai, so they were always there. I am looking forward to it, playing in the stadium, playing on the home ground and with the home fans. I always loved Bangalore. So, I am very happy!

Do you have any expectations from this season? Are you the kind of player who takes each game as it comes or do you look far ahead and plan?

Disha: Earlier, I was the person who used to overthink the game and had lots of expectations and goals for myself. Over a period of time, I felt that I was carrying a lot of baggage on and I was not myself out there. This season, I want to enjoy the game, and play instinctively and just being there became the aim.

Especially from the last two years, from an expectations perspective, I want to be more present with the team and especially now in the (preseason camp)- I’m just focusing on the camp and not looking too ahead of myself.

I’m going to think about each game a day before because I already know the kind of bowlers they (the opposition) are going to have. I have a general idea about what they pose, and how it’s going to be. I keep thinking about that from now when it comes, my mind will be already full of thoughts and expectations, and I don’t want that. I want to be as fresh, open and spontaneous as I can. For that, whatever preparations for the game or the team, it’s going to be a day before and not from now.

SEE ALSO: WPL 2024: Mumbai Indians (MI) – SWOT Analysis

But a general preparation will be there, but how to go about it will be a day before as per the rules and everything. I’m someone who wants to enjoy the moment, be happy playing cricket, and never forget why I started this game. So that’s what I have been, personally, and that’s where I am most peaceful.

With a hectic schedule in cricket, how do find ways to unwind and relax?

Disha: I like watching (TV) series, but I’m very addicted to it. If I start some series, then I just like watching it till the end. So, I stopped watching series much and that’s why I try to watch movies, so it will finish in two hours, or something. But I’m someone who doesn’t get much time for myself. I mean, I get time for myself but I don’t have time to watch movies. I don’t know where I get caught up with or what keeps me busy.

I love reading books and I love journaling. I am not a multitasker so, for everything, I need time. I’m someone who loves working out so that’s my go-to thing. On good days and on bad days, just to feel grounded- I’ll work out. On the bad days, I’ll go again to work out just to feel good. So that’s my go-to thing working out helps me stay calm. And if I get time then I watch movies.

Finally, do you have any words of wisdom or advice for aspiring cricketers who want to be like you?

Disha: Now, girls (in India) can think about cricket playing professionally for a longer period as the WPL is coming. Over a period of time, the team will also like to get more and more opportunities, like now we see the Under-19 World Cups have been introduced. It is very important to understand that it’s for the love of the game you started playing. We should continue to do that and be more present. We are not studying (right now) and are playing cricket because we love it.

Whether it be training, whether it be the skill part, you’re going to have good and bad days and you’re going to come back stronger. It’s okay to have all the emotions in the world, it’s okay to feel bad, it’s okay to feel good but it’s just important to come back the next day and keep doing what you love, keep working towards your bigger goal.

I will say to the youngsters that don’t get caught up with the small failures or small successes you have. Look at the bigger picture as that helps you to get clarity. Whether you get 100, you will know the bigger goal, you need to keep getting more and you have to keep working to get it.

The most important thing is the journey. I realized this because I love trekking and I have been to four or five treks. So it’s always like that, you trek for that end part to see all the mountains and everything. Later, when you come back and realize, the best part was the trek was the journey to the top. Maybe (during the trek, you encounter) a person next to you unknown person and you are talking about the life journey, and you are having dinner together.

ALSO READ: WPL 2024: Delhi Capitals (DC) – SWOT Analysis

Sometimes when you trek with elders- they inspire you to be somebody. Even, the guide itself is giving you life lessons. So, I think it’s important to enjoy the journey because you never know if the destination going to be as beautiful as you thought. But the journey will always be beautiful.

So it’s important not to get caught away with the destination but to enjoy the journey and enjoy each day of your playing cricket. That’s what I have learned from the treks and I try to enjoy this journey. More than thinking about the destination, because it’s going to come if you enjoy the journey; that’s what matters in the end.

This season will be imperative for the youngster to make a mark and on behalf of Women’s CricInsight, we wish Disha Kasat all the best for the upcoming season!

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