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 Chandigarh team 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 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 6 fours in 68 balls but, fell one run short of the deserving half-century. After the break, the opposition came out to bat. It was not an easy target to chase on in a lush green wicket, but Chandigarh’s skipper made their life horrible.

The then 16 years old girl had taken 7/21 two days before, against Jammu and Kashmir, and replicated her fearsome bowling in that match as well. Anurachal batting fell like a pack of cards in front of fearsome in swingers, hurled by her. None of the batters reached to double-figure mark apart from Megha Sharma and 8 batters failed to open their account.

She delivered 29 balls from one end and picked up all the 10 wickets in that innings. She became the first Indian bowler to pick all the 10 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, lead her team to a 161-run victory. Of her 10 wickets, six batters were dismissed lbw and the other four were bowled.

Gautam had continued her form until the COVID-19 brought the entire world into a standstill. It was because of her all-round performance, she has been 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 who have been included this year along with Simran Dil Bahadur and Anagha Murali.

Kashvee Gautam

Kashvee Gautam. ©Special Arrangements

“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. It will be a learning experience for me, as well,” she said to Women’s CricInsight.

Gautam, who is a student of class 12, studies Humanities, has started playing cricket from her childhood days like any other girl who is 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. I take a keen interest in sports and tried athletics and skating in school. But gradually, I shifted my focus towards Cricket,” the speedster added.

ALSO READ: “Women’s IPL Will be a Big Achievement for the Country”: Jhulan Goswami

Kashvee Gautam, who has a younger sister, loves the English language. When asked if she encourages her younger sister in sports or not, she jovially remarked that her sister takes more interest in studies and, her family gives immense freedom to both the sisters.

“I get support from the family every day and,  fortunately, they didn’t give me much pressure for my studies. They have allowed me to do whatever I want to do, inspired me to do well in the filed I have chosen. They taught me to give my 100% in whatever field in indulge and strictly follow them. And they are my biggest supporters. When I got the 10 wicket haul, my mom and dad were also very happy, 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 also helped her to thrive. She didn’t feel any pressure from the society around her, as many girls came out and have started to play sports or even have taken 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. I do 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 the academies where she can 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 major 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 category before shifting to Chandigarh.

Kashvee Gautam

Kashvee Gautam. ©Special Arrangements

She told, “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. I can have more balls to play, and this will make me a better cricketer with the passing days.”

READ HERE: Squad Announced For Women’s T20 Challenge; Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana & Mithali Raj Named Captains

Kashvee Gautam, who adores Indian seamer Bhubaneshwar Kumar – had a stellar season as well. 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 10 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 10 wicket haul in the same tournament.

“In the match against Sikkim, I had 8 wickets in 8 overs. From the other end, I brought about an outswinger bowler so that if the batter survives her over, I can 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. I have to satisfy myself with 9 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 match 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 5 or more wickets haul, across all the formats.

Kashvee Gautam

Kashvee Gautam. ©Special Arrangements

Kashvee Gautam, who is a fitness freak looks up to Indian Captain Virat Kohli for maintaining her fitness and learn captaincy.

She acknowledges the pressure of being the captain of the side, “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 have to look at the other things as well. I have to take responsibility not only for my own performances but how the team is performing 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 compose before you take any decision. There are seniors in the U-19 team, and I was a bit especial about how to convince my points to them. But they were really helpful and cooperative. Support staff in both the team shad understood my condition, and they tried to ease the pressure from my side.”

ALSO READ: Mithali Raj Asks BCCI to Start Women’s IPL by 2021

Kashvee Gautam is aware of the long journey that lies in front of her, and she wants to take one step at a time. She wants to play for India one day and ready to pay the price for it. Her impressive performance has earned her a place in the upcoming Women IPL in UAE. There, in Trail Blazers, she will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of 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 for me, and I am ready to grab any opportunity that is 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, and the journey is always full of success. There are times when things don’t according to the plan. The failures start to creep in.

Kashvee concluded, “That’s inevitable. Failures do come, and it teaches one thing which one tends to overlook while getting blag full of wickets. Failures provide an opportunity to rectify the mistakes and sharpen the 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 of my success.” 

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