HomeInterviewsEXCLUSIVE: "Playing For India Has Always Been The Ultimate Dream" - Sayali...

EXCLUSIVE: “Playing For India Has Always Been The Ultimate Dream” – Sayali Satghare

Sayali Satghare embodies the essence of resilience and determination, poised to become Mumbai’s next big star. Her name reverberates with promise, heralding a new era of inspiration and achievement in the world of women’s cricket.

In the heart of Mumbai, amidst the bustling streets and the chaos of daily life, a young girl’s passion for cricket ignited. Sayali Satghare, a name resonating with promise and determination in the world of women’s cricket, sits down to recount her journey, brimming with anecdotes of dedication, camaraderie, and the relentless pursuit of excellence.

Born and raised in a cricket-loving family, Sayali Satghare’s tryst with the sport began in the familiar setting of her neighbourhood. “I used to play with my cousins in our building,” she recalls, her eyes lighting up with nostalgia. “I used to play with my cousins in our building and then I had a brother who actually started going to an academy. So, then we used to go and I used to just go there and watch what they are doing.” 

It was this familial camaraderie and the allure of the game that propelled Sayali into the cricketing arena, where she found her true calling. “Then my parents and grandparents told me that maybe ‘You should join if you are interested in it so much’. Almost every day we used to play in our building. So, they felt that I should give it a try. You can join. So, he started going and after that, I joined the academy, that’s all.”

However, like many aspiring athletes, Sayali faced scepticism initially, especially from her mother, who emphasized the importance of studies. “My mom was a bit sceptical at the start that I needed to study and all of that. But later on, maybe my dad spoke to her. My dad is very much into cricket,” Sayali admits, reflecting on the early hurdles.

“But my dad, he loved it. Like he used to play during his school and college days. So, maybe he convinced her then after that it was all good. They always supported me, throughout.” With her family’s backing, Sayali Satghare embarked on her cricketing odyssey, fueled by her unwavering passion and familial encouragement.

As our conversation delves deeper, Sayali’s admiration for cricketing icons becomes palpable. “Everyone started because of Sachin Tendulkar. Then the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2011 that we won. So, that time I decided that I seriously wanted to do this. After seeing the celebration that was happening in the country, it was remarkable,” she muses, reminiscing about the euphoria of India’s triumph in the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2011. “Virat Kohli is someone I loved to watch and follow his work ethic on an extreme level and even Smriti Mandhana,” she adds, her reverence for her idols shining through.

But what sets cricket apart for Sayali is its intrinsic significance in her life. “I don’t think I’ve done anything other than cricket,” she confesses with a smile. “I started playing when I was 8 years old. So, from there on, I remember playing cricket and playing football. School was there but I did not take it so seriously, I was never into that. Like maybe I was good at studies, but I was not into that like I did not find it that interesting.” 

For Sayali, cricket isn’t just a sport; it’s a relentless pursuit, an all-encompassing passion that permeates every aspect of her existence. “So, you know, cricket is a way of life for me. And all those things related to cricket- fitness and your training and all that stuff. Yeah, it means a lot to me. I don’t know what I’ll do if I’m not playing cricket.”

Amidst the bustling cricketing landscape of Mumbai, Sayali Satghare found her niche, representing her city with pride and conviction. “Mumbai cricket is actually doing so well. They were recently crowned the Ranji Trophy champions for the 42nd time. And this season was actually very good for the women’s team too. We won the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy and it was the first time Mumbai had won anything in the senior tournament,” she acknowledges, her voice resonating with gratitude.

“So, Mumbai cricket is the best, we have always got all that we need, the top facilities, great hotels and whatever you need. Whenever we are on tour, we stay in good hotels, and we are managed well by the management. It’s great!”

Reflecting on her Mumbai teammate Jemimah Rodrigues, Sayali’s admiration for her teammates shines through.

“Jemi is a very bubbly person. But, I have been playing with and against her since my school days. So I have known her for a very long time. And she’s always been the same, even after playing for India or achieving whatever she has. She’s still the same person. She’s the most humble person that you can meet. There’s a lot you can learn just by being with her, just talking to her,” she exclaims, her eyes alight with admiration.

“And it is always good to have someone like that in the team. Whenever you are in doubt, you can go and talk to her. She’s always open. She’ll never say no to you and helps out in anything you want. It can be cricket or anything in general, and basically, she is someone you can talk to about anything. You know, the greatest. She’s just a good human being, more than anything. Of course, she’s a great cricketer, a great batter and she’s achieved a lot of things. But more than that, she’s a good human being.” It’s this sense of camaraderie and mutual respect that fuels Mumbai’s success on the cricketing stage.

Talking more about her Mumbai teammates, her bond with Saima Thakor cannot go unnoticed. Reflecting on the same, she said, “Saima is one of my very closest friends. Then Humairaa Kaazi is also there. All of them are good friends to me and most of the time, we all are together during tours. We tend to go out together. So the bond in the team is good. So that is very good and that’s why we are getting the results now.”

Life changed for the better for Sayali Satghare when she was named a replacement for the injured Kashvee Gautam in the Gujarat Giants team ahead of the 2024 edition of the Women’s Premier League. She was with the Royal Challengers Bengaluru set-up as a net bowler when she received news that Gujarat Giants selected her.

Sayali Satghare strikes a pose as a Gujarat Giants cricketer [Image: GG]
Sayali Satghare strikes a pose as a Gujarat Giants cricketer [Image: GG]
Narrating the same, she said, “Actually, I was there in Bangalore with RCB as a net bowler when I got the call. So, then the time I got the call, I was very happy. After the auction, I had not expected anything like that. So, just to get that opportunity was a very big thing for me. And then, I called home and spoke to my mom and dad, all of them were happy and said that it was great. They have been praying and they have also sacrificed a lot for me. It was good to make them happy at home.”

As we delve into her stint with the Gujarat Giants, Sayali’s eyes gleam with excitement. “This experience was actually very new for me. Last season I wasn’t there. So to be playing with the foreign players and also the Indian internationals right has been enriching. To be with them, just see how they train or they do the fitness routine and their work ethic is completely different from what we do at the domestic level. So, it’s kind of learning to you get to see what you need to do to be at the highest level that they are playing currently at,” she enthuses, recalling the invaluable lessons gleaned from her interactions with international stalwarts.

Speaking about the Australians in the team, she says “We have three or four Australians in our side. So, you know, by seeing them train, you can understand why they have won so many World Cups. So I just understood what level I need to go to be the best and, maybe beat the best.”

Sayali’s debut for the Gujarat Giants was very fascinating. It was the match versus Delhi Capitals and Dayalan Hemalatha was injured during the proceedings and thereby Sayali became the first ‘concussion substitute’ in the history of the WPL.

Reflecting on her experience, she said “When Hemalatha got hurt, we were not sure if she would continue to bat or not. At that stage, we were three wickets down. I didn’t know I had to go. She was in the medical room and we were just sitting there in the dugout.” 

Adding on, she said, “Michael [Klinger], our coach was there and he came and said that ‘You may need to go in place of Hemlata as the concussion substitute’. I was very happy that I was getting to go in and do something. At least I can get that feel of the ground to play in such a big crowd and just go there and just first experience things. I was very happy, to be honest, and I was not thinking about anything else. How I would do, how much I’d score or anything else was secondary. I was happy to be there on the pitch.”

Having gone through the trials and tribulations of domestic cricket, Sayali Satghare acknowledges the difference in cricket. She said, “Playing domestic cricket and WPL is very different as in, we don’t have a lot of crowds and all. But during the WPL, we couldn’t hear what the other person was saying next to us. There was a lot of crowds, especially in Bangalore. I was actually waiting for that opportunity. I wasn’t thinking much. And this is nothing in my mind, just a clear blank head and just wanted to enjoy the experience.”

Sayali Satghare has toiled hard in domestic cricket for long [Image: Getty]
Sayali Satghare has toiled hard in domestic cricket for long [Image: Getty]
At large, the experience of playing in the WPL has done her a world of good and rubbing shoulders with the bonafide legends of the game, she echoes a sentiment of gratitude and steadfast learning.

She said, “From the international players, there’s a lot to learn about how they read the game, what they do in certain situations. Even if I didn’t play again, but sitting out, you can see how they do in certain situations. What they plan or how they think, how they can control the game, follow the course and outside the game, the training routines and how they manage the food and the sessions and all of it. It was a very different experience. I got to know that even I need to be there, work hard to get to that level.”

With the presence of Mithali Raj, Nooshin al Khadeer and Michael Klinger– Sayali mentions how it has been a massive learning curve. “I think all three of them are very calm and possess a chill personality. So it was very easy to communicate with them because they were open to just having a conversation about what my role would be or practically anything like that. It was not about too much dominance, but also they were willing to receive what the players want and so it was good.”

Although Sayali did not feature in all the games, she learnt a lot from the sidelines. Delving deeper into what she learnt, she said, “I think more than skill-wise, I would say, tactically. As in how you can plan for certain players or certain situations and how to read the conditions. Practically that is going to help me in the domestic circuit. More than anything, I think at this stage in our careers, that is the most important thing of how smartly you play and how tactically you can trap the opposition. That is something that helped me a lot.”

Even the memorable moments– on and off the field from her time with Gujarat Giants, is something that stays with her, very close to her heart. Her team faced hurdles slipping to four consecutive losses in the Bengaluru leg of the WPL but found momentum in the Delhi leg.

“It was in Delhi when we won our first game against RCB and the whole mood in the camp changed because we had four tough losses in Bangalore and then everyone was a little off. So after that first win, I think actually the Delhi leg of the tournament was great for us. We did play good cricket. After the first win and after the game, we went to the team room and just had a little celebration and you know, the usual cake smash. Our coach had said before the game, he had said in the meeting that if we win the game tomorrow, ‘You will have permission to smash all the cakes you want on my face’. So, you know, that was fun. And after the last game, all of them gelled pretty well. After the first win, I think it’s important to keep winning.”

Forging closer bonds helped Sayali Satghare grow professionally and personally in the WPL. “In GG, there was Harleen was there, I knew her from the domestic set-up. We had played against each other a couple of times, but now, we’ve become closer maybe because of being together. So, we used to go out and then there was Ashleigh [Gardner] and so with three of us, we had a good rapport with each other.”

With Beth Mooney as full-time skipper in this edition, a lot of the Indian youngsters learnt massively and understood more about their game. Speaking on the same, she said, “I used to look up to Beth Mooney a lot. She’s very consistent in her performances. I had a talk with her and asked her how she was so consistent with her performance. Every other game she scored a 50, whether it be for Australia or in the Delhi [leg of the WPL], she scored three back-to-back 50s. That was one question I wanted to ask her for a long time.”

Reflecting on Beth Mooney’s technical prowess, she said, “She’s pretty cool, actually. She doesn’t get hyped up too early or anything. Even when things were not going in our favour, whenever we used to go to the team meeting. She’s usually pretty cool talking to the bowlers and all. It was because of her that we bounced back in Delhi, the two games that we won. She played that captain’s innings. At the top, we needed her to score and for four games initially, she couldn’t. But after that, coming back after four games and performing in certain ways, you know, great thing that all of us can learn from.”

Sayali has grown as a cricketer massively and takes a rather philosophical stance when looking back at the major learnings and takeaways, She says, “This season, as a whole, I’ve realized something. Everybody says, ‘Follow the process and that the process is more important than the result.’ But I think the way the season has gone, I personally have started to believe in that more. No matter what has happened in the previous game, you just have to follow your own processes. It can be different for each individual, your own routines and all that. And as long as you are doing that consistently, it doesn’t actually matter what the result is.”

Sayali Satghare donning her domestic team colours [Image: BCCI]
Sayali Satghare donning her domestic team colours [Image: BCCI]
The mental aspect of the game is as important as the fitness and physical aspect. Acknowledging the same and believing in the power of now, Sayali shares, “I prepare for the next tournament, but that is before the tournament starts. But after that, I am someone who will take it one match at a time, and, every ball at a time. I don’t think much. I like to go in with a clear head and not think too much. Because you have prepared a lot before the season starts your body knows what to do, your mind subconsciously knows what to do in all the situations. I try not to overcomplicate things and just keep it simple, be clear in my mind.”

The Women’s Premier League has been a game-changer. With so many domestic cricketers benefiting from a cricketing perspective, but also from the financial perspective– it has been massive.

So looking at the growth of women’s cricket thanks to the WPL, she says, “The players who are part of WPL will go back to the domestic cricket stage. Their experience will help others. That’s going to help the domestic matches and the domestic circuit a lot. I think after the last season itself, this season, the domestic season was also very competitive as a whole. The T20s or one-dayers, I observed and all the teams are getting starting to get better, it’s not just one team that will dominate now.

As it goes forward and we have more seasons of WPL, hopefully, we have more teams as well, it will ensure more players who get that chance to be and play at one level higher than for the domestic. So it will grow women’s cricket going ahead.”

With the domestic circuit now seeing the return of a red ball tournament, the excitement is not lost on Sayali who says, “The red ball tournament is happening, I think, after five years or something in India, so, pretty excited. The last I played a red ball game was way back in 2018 during the Under-19 and it was a two-day game. So, now after a long, all the international players are playing, so we have three or four of them in our team I feel it’s going to be a great experience. And maybe the test matches, they’re having more test matches, so that will help to play in the red ball because of these matches.”

Looking at how test matches in women’s cricket is slowly but steadily increasing and India’s dominance has been unmatched- Sayali looks at how test cricket is the pinnacle. She says, “I have not played for a long time, but I feel it’s going to be pretty exciting. And whatever I’ve heard from those who have recently played the test match against England and Australia, they were like, T20 and all is nothing compared to the test matches. So, you know, from the men’s also and the women’s team also, everybody says that. So, actually, I’m very excited to be part of that.”

While cricket occupies her throughout the year, Sayali finds time to pursue her hobbies and passions beyond the game. “We go to watch movies on the off days and stuff. Music is something I hear a lot before games, especially. So, to keep the spirit relaxed– I like to paint. So, whenever I’m at home- I find some time to do that.”

Sayali Satghare will look to continue her vein of consistency in domestic cricket [Image: BCCI]
Sayali Satghare will look to continue her vein of consistency in domestic cricket [Image: BCCI]
But she still remains connected to fitness and elaborates on the same saying, “Fitness is something that I think you should do all year round, even if you are not playing or anything like that. And I like to be in the gym for a long time.”

Looking ahead, Sayali’s aspirations are clear. “Playing for India has always been the ultimate dream,” she confesses, her voice brimming with determination. “But for now, it’s about taking each game as it comes, staying focused, and giving my best every time I step onto the field.”

Despite the ups and downs of her cricketing journey, Sayali Satghare remains steadfast in her pursuit of excellence. “Obviously, everyone who’s playing right now is playing for that India cap. But you know, to reach there also, you have to go step by step. So that’s the main goal,” she reflects thoughtfully.

“Next season again, it’s going to be more important because after a good season, I think you need to be consistent. So, take one tournament at a time and be consistent in your performance and you never know, you’ll get the opportunity.”

Sayali Satghare believes in keeping it simple [Image: Getty]
Sayali Satghare believes in keeping it simple [Image: Getty]
As our conversation draws to a close, Sayali’s parting words echo with wisdom and encouragement. “I’ll just say if you love cricket or for that matter any sport, I think you should just go for it because we are in a time right now that women in all the departments are getting recognized and getting the support that we want. “I would just say just go for it, keep working hard, be passionate about what you want to do and just go all in!”

Sayali Satghare’s journey stands as a living tale of determination and passion—a beacon of hope for aspiring cricketers everywhere.

Click Here to get the latest news related to Women’s Cricket. You can also check about Match predictions here. Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more updates.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Recent article