INDIAN’S STAR PLAYER
A chat with Veda Krishnamurthy.
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.