IN­DIAN’S STAR PLAYER

A chat with Veda Kr­ish­na­murthy.

Woman's Era - - Contents - Vi­jayan Bala

Twenty five-year-old Veda Kr­ish­na­murthy is def­i­nitely go­ing to be a star in In­dian women’s cricket. In the 2017 ICC World Cup in Eng­land, Veda played one of the most de­struc­tive and de­ci­sive in­nings in the tour­na­ment against New Zealand at Derby – a game that was a do-or-die match for In­dia.

Com­ing in to bat in the 37th over of the in­nings, Veda took the game away from the op­po­nents with a blitzkrieg in­nings of 70 off just 45 de­liv­er­ies which in­cluded 7 fours and 2 sixes. Thanks to Veda’s ef­fort, In­dia were able to set New Zealand a stiff tar­get of 266 in 50 overs. Woman’s Era spoke to Veda after she re­turned from Eng­land.

How and when did you take to cricket?

Right from child­hood, my mother in par­tic­u­lar, en­cour­aged me to play boys’ sports. In fact, I have played street cricket from the age of 3. When I was about 11 years of age, my par­ents saw an ad­ver­tise­ment in a news­pa­per call­ing out young tal­ent for a trial camp in Ben­galuru. My par­ents re­al­is­ing that my dream was to be­come a crick­eter took me to the Kar­nataka Cricket Academy where the camp was to be held. Ir­fan Sait who was su­per­vis­ing the camp felt that I had great po­ten­tial and nat­u­ral abil­ity. He asked my par­ents to im­me­di­ately en­roll me into the academy. My par­ents were hes­i­tant be­cause my en­rolling into the academy meant I would have to stay in Ben­galuru all by my­self. Un­der­stand­ing the prob­lem, Ir­fan sir im­me­di­ately ar­ranged for my stay with Spoor­thi Ramesh, a former woman state player.

A month later, my el­der sis­ter Vat­sala, rented a small house in Ben­galuru and ac­com­pa­nied me to each of my prac­tice ses­sions. Then my fa­ther de­cided to shift with the fam­ily from Birur, Chikka­m­a­galur to Ben­galuru so that I could con­cen­trate on my cricket.

Who were the main coaches who have helped you to be­come the player you are?

My first coach was Ir­fan Sait who taught me the basics. Later on, coaches like Apurva De­sai and Su­man Sharma also helped me.

How did you make it to the In­dian side in your late teens?

Owing to my ex­cep­tional field­ing skills, I broke into the se­nior Kar­nataka team at just 13 years of age. I also soon es­tab­lished my­self as a bats­man. Again, un­der my lead­er­ship, the Kar­nataka U-19 team won con­sec­u­tive South Zone In­ter­State Cups. My pos­i­tive ap­proach to bat­ting and very good field­ing helped me to make the In­dian ODI side when I was not yet 19 years of age.

Tell us about your ODI de­but and how did you fare in that match?

I made my ODI de­but vs Eng­land at Derby in 2011. In that game I scored 51. I also made my T20 de­but for In­dia on that tour of Eng­land against Aus­tralia in the Natwest T20 Quad­ran­gu­lar se­ries at Bil­ler­icay.

What led you to be­ing dropped from the In­dian side in 2012?

After the knock of 51 in my ODI de­but, I did have a few note­wor­thy per­for­mances. How­ever, in 2012, I went through a bad patch vs Eng­land get­ting 6, 5, 7 and 9. This re­sulted in me be­ing dropped from the team. I was prob­a­bly com­pla­cent and not ma­ture enough to play in­ter­na­tional cricket at that time. I was only 20 years of age then.

What en­abled you to over­come the slump and shift your ca­reer in the right di­rec­tion?

Ev­ery­thing is about the men­tal as­pect. You have to be­lieve in your­self men­tally. When I started off, I was re­ally young. My first cou­ple of se­ries were re­ally good and it just got into my head and I per­formed poorly. For a while, I did not know what to do to make a come­back. After that, I took the hard route by play­ing for many dif­fer­ent teams and learn­ing many new things.

Play­ing for dif­fer­ent teams and play­ing not only for my home team Kar­nataka helped me to grow as a player be­cause once you go out of your com­fort zone and try dif­fer­ent things, you tend to learn a lot. I also tuned ma­ture.

The West Indies ODIS in 2016 saw you play with great ma­tu­rity, par­tic­u­larly in the third ODI in Mu­la­padu near Vi­jayawada. Please tell read­ers about that knock in par­tic­u­lar.

All the three ODIS vs West Indies were played at the same venue. In the first ODI, I scored a stroke-filled 52 not out. How­ever, my knock of 71 off 79 balls in the third ODI gave me a lot of sat­is­fac­tion as it set up In­dia’s 15-run win. All the hard work I had put in dur­ing my ab­sence from the na­tional team, helped me dur­ing this in­nings. I not only played the role of sheet-an­chor but also dis­played my nat­u­ral game.

My tim­ing and pick­ing the gaps was al­most per­fect. My half cen­tury came off 64 de­liv­er­ies while my fi­nal 19 runs came at a strike-rate of over 100. I hit no sixes. But I hit 10 fours and took 25 sin­gles. That day, our run­ning be­tween the wick­ets was so good that it put a lot of pres­sure on the West Indies field­ers.

Your knock of 70 against New Zealand in the 2017 World Cup is still fresh in our minds. What were your thoughts as you went out to bat?

Be­fore I went to bat, both Harry (Har­man­preet Kaur) and Mithu (Mithali Raj) had played re­ally well. They had set the foun­da­tion for me to go and play my strokes. So, I just played a cou­ple of balls and I knew it was a very good wicket to bat on. Hence, I backed my abil­ity to get quick runs.

Who has been your role model as a crick­eter?

Once I started play­ing cricket and once I started watch­ing Mithali play, I learnt a lot from her. So, you could say that when I was a kid my role model was Mithali Raj. I wish to add here that when I was 12, Mithali Raj was fe­lic­i­tated at our school.

What in­flu­ence has Mithali Raj had on you in par­tic­u­lar and the team in gen­eral?

With most of the mem­bers of the women’s cricket team un­der the age of 30, it is ex­tremely im­por­tant to have some­one who can guide the young­sters in the right di­rec­tion and take them to greater heights. In the form of Mithali Raj, the In­dian women crick­eters could not have got a bet­ter leader. I am ex­tremely for­tu­nate to play with my role model Mithali Raj at the other end of the crease for the past seven years.

We play for the same do­mes­tic side also. One gets so much con­fi­dence when she is at the other end. She keeps telling you what one should do. Bat­ting with her and be­ing with her keeps you at peace. So, we lis­ten to her and we go with what­ever plan she comes up with. She is a great mo­ti­va­tor.

Fi­nally, what do you feel about the team los­ing in the fi­nal of the 2017 World Cup?

Our team played ex­cel­lent all round cricket to make it to the fi­nal. We were all heart­bro­ken and very dis­ap­pointed after the loss in the fi­nal to Eng­land. How­ever, I am con­fi­dent that the team will learn a lot from the loss and we will de­velop into bet­ter play­ers, es­pe­cially in pres­sure sit­u­a­tions.

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