How many of you are familiar with the name of Karari? I am sure, there are hardly few who has heard the name before. While this is a small town in Kaushambi district of Uttar Pradesh, a successful Women’s T20 Challenge 2020 has helped the 12-year old aspiring all-rounder, Priyanka Nirmal, who belongs from Karari, a big dream.
While the scenario in India has been changing post their appearance in the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup final, there are a few parts too where Women’s Cricket isn’t too popular still. However, the recent Women’s T20 Challenge in the United Arab Emirates was something that gave Priyanka aka Pari an aspiration to represent the country one day.
The little girl has made up her mind where she wants to go but the road ahead is not known to her. “I want to play for India. Just like Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana,” said Pari to Mumbai Mirror, who has been a familiar face in an academy of Karari.
However, like many backward places in the country, Karari is also not familiar with the fact that girls also play cricket and that could be the reason Pari is the only girl playing the sport with the boys.
“She, perhaps, is the only girl in Kaushambi district who plays cricket. At least that’s what we know. And when I say cricket, I mean serious cricket,” her mentor and coach Shailendra Singh shared to Mumbai Mirror.
Apart from Singh, she has two other coaches – Mohammed Aadil and Mohammed Talib, who are also aspiring cricketers themselves and always help her in every way possible. But things only work out when Pari will get to play with other girls.
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“She plays with the boys here because there are no options. She bowls at them, faces them with the bat in the nets. The boys are ruthless when bowling. She’s only becoming tougher. But unless she plays with other girls, we won’t know her true potential,” revealed Aadil.
Priyanka Nirmal started playing cricket only two years ago, although the reason wasn’t known to her too why she took up this sports. However, it’s been one year now where she has been training after she got to know about this boys’ academy in a school.
“Why? Even I can’t answer that question. I felt I was born to play cricket. I never thought about the obstacle I’d say, in my growth. Never thought how many girls played in my town or district. All I know is I want to play cricket,” added Pari.
Like many, she also had to face hurdles but as they say, all’s well that ends well. She convinced her family and her passion and talent for the sport impressed the school authorities and they have allowed her to practise there despite not being a student of that school.
“A girl from my neighbourhood had been kidnapped and my parents were reluctant and concerned about sending me, especially my grandmother. They felt it would be unsafe. But I convinced them I could take care of myself. I also told them that a few boys from the vicinity were going for practice and I could join them,” she further shared.
While no chance of getting a local team for girls’ as there is no other girl who plays cricket there, her dream of becoming a fast bowler like Jhulan Goswami is at stake. So far, she has played only a few friendly matches with the boys at the academy.
“Those are the only matches I have played. I am yet to play with girls of my age. Where do I play? Women’s cricket matches take place in Allahabad (over 50km from Karari). How do I get there?” asked Pari.
While the tournament like the Women’s T20 Challenge has been helping talented players to be in the radar and create interest among the youngsters like Pari, there are many like her whose future remain uncertain with so many limitations.