For everyone, it was just another day of life in late February earlier this year. And in this mild winter morning in Andhra Pradesh, a bunch of young girls were warming up in KSRM College Ground, Kadapa. COVID-19 didn’t hit hard back then, and a closer look will tell one that girls are preparing for the match to follow. Kashvee Gautam led the Chandigarh team and had won their previous two games in the Interstate U-19 One Day Competition by then.
And they were up against Arunachal Pradesh. The previous Punjab player had won the toss and decided to bat first. In the allotted 50 overs, Chandigarh scored 186. Where the skipper came out to bat in the 27th over at the score of 76/3 and hit six fours in 68 balls but fell one run short of the deserving half-century. After the break, the opposition came out to bat. Chasing, on a lush green wicket, it was not an easy target, but Chandigarh’s skipper made their life horrible.
The then 16-year-old girl had taken 7/21 two days before, against Jammu and Kashmir, and replicated her fearsome bowling in that match. Anurachal batting fell like a pack of cards in front of fearsome swingers hurled by her. None of the batters reached a double-figure mark apart from Megha Sharma, and eight batters failed to open their accounts.
10 wickets in a one-day game ✅
49 runs with the bat ✅
Leading from the front ✅
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) February 25, 2020
She delivered 29 balls from one end and picked up all the ten wickets in that innings. She became the first Indian bowler to pick all ten wickets in One Day domestic cricket. That day, her charisma didn’t end with that. She took a hat-trick in the 2nd over of her spell when she sent Nabam Martha, Abhi, and Sanskriti Sharma to the pavilion in consecutive balls.
All of them were trapped before the wicket. Her hat trick reduced Arunachal to 9 for five inside three overs. Her figure of 4.5-1-12-10 bowled Arunachal for 25 in 53 balls, leading her team to a 161-run victory. Of her ten wickets, six batters were dismissed lbw, and the other four were bowled.
Gautam continued her form until COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill. Because of her all-around performance, she was selected to play for the Trailblazers in this year’s Women’s T20 Challenge under the leadership of Smriti Mandhana. She is one of those new faces included this year, along with Simran Dil Bahadur and Anagha Murali.
“It’s a special feeling for me as I used to watch the previous editions of the women’s T20 Challenge on television and would dream about being a part of the tournament one day. I have been a big fan of Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur and Trailblazers captain Smriti Mandhana apart from Jemimah Rodrigues. So it will also be a learning experience for me,” she said to Women’s CricInsight.
Gautam, a student in class 12 who studies Humanities, started playing cricket in her childhood like any other girl interested in sports. With a bat given by her aunt, the then-six-year-old began her cricketing journey in the courtyard.
“I used to play gully cricket with the boys, and I was playing well. After that, I took a keen interest in sports and tried athletics and skating in school. But gradually, I shifted my focus towards cricket,” the speedster added.
Kashvee Gautam, who has a younger sister, loves the English language. However, when asked if she encourages her younger sister in sports, she jovially remarked that her sister takes more interest in studies, and her family gives immense freedom to both sisters.
“I get support from my family every day, and, fortunately, they didn’t give me much pressure for my studies. They have allowed me to do whatever I want and inspired me to do well in my chosen field. They taught me to give 100% in whatever field I indulge in and strictly follow them. And they are my biggest supporters. When I got the ten-wicket haul, my mom and dad were also pleased, but at the same time, they reminded me about the next goals,” revealed the youngster.
While she got support from her family, she also remarked that the friendly atmosphere helped her thrive. She didn’t feel any pressure from the society around her, as many girls came out and started to play sports or even take sports as a career. She, too, reminded us about the help she gets from her friend.
“My school is also very supportive. They allow me to take leave for the matches and to sit for the exams. So I manage my sports and studies together as both are important to me. When I get a break from the matches, I do a bit of study,” she further added.
However, she was looking for academies where she could have proper cricket training. But she failed. So one day, while she was playing with her male friends, she was noticed by Nagesh Gupta, who is now the U-23 coach of the Chandigarh women’s team. Kashvee joined her academy at the age of 13. Gupta, a BCCI Level-2 coach, noticed her ability to swing the ball and spent hours on her action and wrist movement apart from making Kashvee bowl at the same spot.
Kashvee, too, is very fond of her coach and said that sir is very supportive and has a significant role to play in her improvement as a fast bowler. She started her cricket journey in 2017 from Punjab Cricket Association and played in all the age-level categories before shifting to Chandigarh.
She said, “I started with PCA because, in those days, Chandigarh didn’t have the BCCI affiliation. But once we got this, I moved back to Chandigarh. In Chandigarh, I am the first-choice seamer, and at the same time, I have the opportunity to bat up in the order. So I can have more balls to play, making me a better cricketer with the passing days.”
Kashvee Gautam, who adores Indian seamer, Bhubaneshwar Kumar, also had a stellar season. In U-19 One Day Tournament, Plate Group, she has led her team from the front. In 9 matches, she has picked up 35 wickets at an average of 4.2. Apart from her ten wickets hall against Arunachal Pradesh, she has also picked up 9/14 against Sikkim and 7/21 and Jammu and Kashmir.
Apart from her fast bowling, she is a hard hitter too. She has amassed 281 runs with an average of 46 in 9 innings while batting in the middle order. While discussing the memorable U-19 tournament, Gautam shared a story of how she was deprived of her 2nd ten-wicket haul in the same tournament.
— Nitin Sharma (@Nitinsharma631) February 25, 2020
“In the match against Sikkim, I had eight wickets in 8 overs. I brought about an outswinger bowler from the other end so that if the batter survived her over, I could have my 10-wicket haul in the next over. I was that confident. Her ball doesn’t usually come into the batters. But I don’t know what happened that day as one of her balls came into the batters, and she got the wicket. So I have to satisfy myself with nine wickets,” she recalled.
But U-19 One Day was not the only tournament where the young talent left her mark. In the U-23 One Day tournament, she took 31 wickets at an average of 2.9 in 9 innings. Her best figure came against Arunachal Pradesh once again when she picked up 6/6. Apart from these, she picked up 5/2 against Pondicherry, 5/9 against Nagaland, and 5/17 against Bihar.
In U-19, Gautam’s skill with the bat also came into prominence when in the first match of the interstate U-23 T20 Tournament against Goa, she hit an unbeaten 31 from 16 balls, and in the next game, witnessed an unbeaten 38 off 21 from her. Though she failed to win the match against Goa, her 38 in the next match was enough to secure victory against Himachal Pradesh. In three tournaments in the 2019-20 season, she claimed 80 wickets in 25 innings, including eight five or more wickets hauls, across all the formats.
Kashvee Gautam, a fitness freak, looks up to Indian Captain Virat Kohli for maintaining her fitness and learning captaincy.
She acknowledges the pressure of being the side’s captain, “I am the captain, so there are different kinds of pressure. It is not about how I perform on the field, but at the same time, I also have to look at the other things. I have to take responsibility for my performance and how the team is performing, which was also very important for me.”
She again added, “It is a different kind of experience to manage a team. Captaincy makes you responsible for all the efforts put forward. So that forces you to become calmer and more composed before making any decision. There are seniors in the U-19 team, and I was a bit special about convincing them my points. But they were accommodating and cooperative. Support staff in both teams had understood my condition, and they tried to ease the pressure from my side.”
Kashvee Gautam is aware of the long journey before her and wants to take one step at a time. She wants to play for India one day and is ready to pay the price for it. Her impressive performance has earned her a place in the upcoming Women IPL in UAE. In Trail Blazers, she will be rubbing shoulders with Jhulan Goswami, Smriti Mandhana, Sophie Ecclestone, and Deandra Dottin.
The pace bowler again shared, “Even if I don’t get the chance to play, sharing the dressing room with Jhulan Goswami will be a huge boost, and I am ready to grab any opportunity thrown at me. Playing for India is my ultimate goal. But for that, I have to utilize all the chances.”
Kashvee Gautam is only 17 now. She has just started her journey, which is always full of success. But, there are times when things don’t work according to plan.
Kashvee concluded, “That’s inevitable. Failures do come, which teaches one thing one tends to overlook while getting blagged full of wickets. Failures provide an opportunity to rectify mistakes and sharpen skills. I take failure as a challenge to overcome, which will make me stronger mentally and eventually will work to help me as a stepping stone to my success.”