NEW DELHI: Sanjay and Seema Sehrawat from South Delhi have two daughters and a son. The daughters took up sports early but the son was not interested. Years after elder daughter Swati quit cricket to focus on academics, Shweta is now just a step away from becoming an U-19 World Cup winner. She is the star batter of the team which will clash with England in the final on Sunday.
For years, Sanjay tried telling his peers that his daughter was good at cricket but no one bothered. The couple went to every game the daughter played. As Shweta went about powering India to the inaugural U-19 World Cup final over last fortnight, Sanjay started receiving calls from the same peers.
“Arey yaar teri beti toh bahut achcha khelti hai. (Mate, your daughter is a good player),” they tell Sanjay. “These people have realized now that Shweta actually plays cricket,” Sanjay laughed.
Shweta is firm on staying away from this new-found attention until she gets the job done for her team against England. “Almost all the girls in her team have given interviews on some platform. She told me that she will only do interviews after the World Cup is over. We have just spoken to her over text messages in the last couple of days,” Sanjay told TOI on Saturday.
These are exciting times in women’s cricket. It is steadily becoming a viable career option. Shweta has been into sports from her pre-teens. Her father took her to the academy where his elder daughter trained as a bowler. “Shweta showed glimpses of her talent when she played with the tennis ball against boys when she was just eight years old. The coach at the academy was so impressed that he insisted she should train with the leather ball,” Sanjay said.
“She was good in many sports. She single-handedly helped her school win inter-zonal volleyball championships. She was good at badminton and also did a bit of skating,” the proud father added.
Shweta’s interest in cricket peaked when she watched a women’s T20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan at the Ferozeshah Kotla in 2016. “She insisted she wanted to watch that match. She got interested in the game from there. A year late r, she watched Harmanpreet Kaur score that 171 not out against Australia in a World Cup semifinal. She was hooked to cricket by then and watched all matches on TV. She started following Harmanpreet, Smriti Mandhana and Virat Kohli,” Sanjay said.
Shweta’s journey took a turn when she took on current India U-19 captain and established international star Shafali Verma’s Haryana team in U-16 cricket. “Shweta was a bowling all rounder. She scored a half-century batting at No. 7 and won the match for Delhi. She was promoted up the order after that,” Sanjay recalled.
#TeamIndia march into the Finals of the #U19T20WorldCup.They become the first team to reach the finals of the ina… https://t.co/CIAHDKqwK6
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) 1674816762000
Shweta’s elder sister gave up cricket because she chose to study science after passing class X. But Sanjay and Seema left it to Shweta, who studied at Modern School, to decide what she wanted to do. “Our only condition was that she needed to complete higher secondary education. She took up humanities after class X. We were convinced she would become a cricketer. I had seen the girl break her bat in a few days because she would hit the ball so hard in he r teens,” Sanjay said.
The father was not let down by his daughter. “Shweta chose arts to focus on cricket but she told us she wanted to complete her graduation. That’s why she wrote to NCA that she would not be able to attend the U-19 camp in May-June as she had her board exams. NCA head VVS Laxman made an exception for her and a sked her to join later. She was one of the only two centurions in that tournament in Anantapur,” he said.
A Gold-standard meeting! 👏👏Javelin thrower & Olympic Gold medallist @Neeraj_chopra1 interacted with #TeamIndia ah… https://t.co/ByjVqpav5O
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1674924858000
Sanjay says he doesn’t give Shweta any advice. “She has done it all by herself. I am just a proud father,” he said.
Irrespective of what happens on Sunday, Shweta has already made her parents proud and lived her sister’s dream.
As #TeamIndia get ready for the marquee ICC U19 Women’s World Cup final tomorrow, BCCI Honorary Secretary @JayShah… https://t.co/ciGzr0fWwI
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) 1674918622000