When Harmanpreet Kaur tossed the ball at Shikha Pandey for the final over in opposition to New Zealand on Thursday, India watched with bated breath. Needing 16 to win off the final over, New Zealand took the chase right down to the wire when Shikha bowled that yorker at Amelia Kerr. At Goa’s Panjim, Shikha’s household was glued to the TV, praying for a miracle. And they erupted when she bowled the ultimate ball.
“She had called before the game and said how she wants to win the match for India. It was so thrilling to see Shikha bowl the final over successfully. Amelia Kerr was on fire,” mentioned her father Subas Pandey, a retired faculty trainer who shifted to Goa from Karimnagar, Andhra Pradesh in 1997. Shikha’s love for the game grew after shifting to Goa however it was largely confined to gully cricket until she entered her teenagers.
“I was always very strict when it came to education. She took to proper training when she turned a teenager. I told her to be disciplined and achieve a professional degree first and only then can she pursue her dream of playing for India,” mentioned Subas. “She has some brilliant variations up her sleeve. The way she bowls in the death overs is remarkable. She bowls off-cutters and inswinging yorkers in tight situations. So far, she is doing a great job in the World Cup,” mentioned India medium-pacer Mansi Joshi, who has shared the brand new ball with Shikha for India.
“The India bowling coach Subroto Banerjee has been of great assistance. She worked hard on her yorkers and other variations with him,” added Subas. That and Shikha’s self-discipline solid to assist her change into one of the vital reliant pacers India have not too long ago witnessed. Jhulan Goswami, who shared the brand new ball with Shikha in lots of matches, vouches for her self-discipline as effectively. “Once I roomed with her and was scared to watch television or speak on the phone. She would go to sleep at 9:30pm, finish her dinner at 7:30pm, wake up at 7am. I told her, ‘Shikha, you are such a nice girl but I would rather room with someone else. I can’t be this disciplined,” mentioned Goswami from Kolkata.
Shikha ventured into cricket solely after holding her promise. She acquired an engineering diploma and joined the Air Force in 2012 the place she underwent coaching to be a flying ATC officer, and is now posted at the Palam Airport in New Delhi. “She used to be a topper in school and college. She joined Indian Air Force by clearing tests and not because she was a sportsperson,” mentioned Goswami. It was lastly in 2014 that Shikha made her Test, ODI and T20 debuts for India.
This T20 World Cup has include its share of challenges. Shikha knew her position could be essential within the absence of the skilled Goswami. With medium-pacers Arundhati Reddy and Pooja Vastrakar nonetheless studying the ropes, Pandey has roughly been the go-to bowler in strain conditions. But Goswami all the time knew ‘Shikhu’ could be as much as the duty. “Many pace bowlers carry a version of their aggression off the field but even on the field, Shikha was always good natured,” mentioned Goswami. “She has a clear idea of her ability. She didn’t have a lot of experience coming into the India team possibly because the scene in Goa is not that vibrant, you don’t get that many games to play. But she had that spark. She would spot her own errors and that is why she has come this far. She is now the leading medium-pacer and mind it, she was not there in the last World T20. She has worked her way back into the team and how!”
(with inputs from Dhiman Sarkar)