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In the zone – North

Preeti Bose becomes first woman cricketer from Haryana to play for India

Left-arm spinner, Preeti Bose from Haryana recently realised her dream of playing for India when she made her debut against Sri Lanka in Ranchi. The 23-year old became the first woman from Haryana to play for the women’s national team when she took the field on February 19 in the last ODI of the three-match series.

While the India Women’s team swept the series 3-0, Bose made an impression by grabbing two wickets on debut. She bowled an exceptional spell of eight overs with four maidens while giving away only eight runs. “It was a dream come true for me. Living in a remote village of Haryana, I did not even have a clue that women can also represent the country in the sport. It was a heavenly experience to be sharing the dressing room with senior cricketers like Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami and Harmanpreet Kaur. I will work harder to retain my place in the team,” said the cricketer who hails from Sandal Kalan village near Sonepat in Haryana.

Bose learnt her early lessons in cricket when she was 17 after moving to Sonepat in pursuit of higher secondary school education. On the day she made her ODI debut, the cricketer was also hired by Northern Railways, which made it even more special.

Presently representing North Zone in the inter-zonal tournament for seniors in Guntur, Bose said, “I feel fortunate to have got the chance to play at India level. Getting a job on the same day was like icing on the cake. Now, my focus will be to raise my game further and maintain good form. All senior cricketers in the team were very supportive and helped me hold my nerve in the debut game.”

However, it was not easy to convince her parents, who thought sports was not for girls. Her father, Rakam Singh Bose wanted her to concentrate on her studies rather than pursuing the game. But the spinner defied all odds, and did well at the district and state level to make her presence felt. Thereafter, Rohtak-based coach Mahipal Singh took Bose under his wings and trained her to become an effective left-arm spinner. It was during the Challenger Trophy in 2015, where Bose caught the attention of senior cricketers and selectors. She played a key role in India Blue’s title triumph with a five-wicket haul in the final. She also finished the tournament as the highest wicket-taker with 11 wickets from three matches. Earlier, in 2013 she had also represented India ‘A’.

Bose, who has done her Masters in Yoga Science, idolizes former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori. After her India debut, she has become a star in her village and received a warm-welcome when she returned after playing against Sri Lanka. Her father and siblings are part-time farmers and labourers. “My family has now become very encouraging and supportive. The sport they were opposing has brought recognition and employment to me. I hope seeing me take cricket seriously, other girls from small villages of Haryana also get motivated and are able to pursue their dreams,” felt Bose.

HPCA promotes ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ drive in the hill state

In its bid to promote and popularize the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’, Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) organized an event in Shimla. By doing so, HPCA became the first cricket association in India to promote ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’. HPCA President, Anurag Thakur and HP Governor Acharya Devvrat were also present at the event which was attended in large numbers by the people. The HPCA named their campaign ‘Swachh Himachal – Padhai bhi, Safai bhi.’

Left-arm spinner, Mayank Dagar, who was part of the Under-19 India team during the ICC Cricket World Cup, 2016 also pledged to the campaign. The launch event saw the unveiling of the Swachhta brochure in the presence of over 1,000 students and teachers from various educational institutions of Himachal Pradesh.

The campaign aims at creating awareness and understanding among the youth about the benefits of leading a clean, green and healthy lifestyle. This campaign will be driven throughout the state, across 12 districts, urban and rural areas. The initiative will be primarily led by youth hailing from school, universities, educational institutes such as ITI’s, technical universities, Yuva Kendra, Mahila Mandal, etc. According to HPCA officials, in order to motivate and incentivize the youth, various opportunities will be offered such as - interactive sessions and cricket clinics with renowned Indian cricketers, chance to watch live matches at the stadium, etc.

Speaking during the launch event, Anurag Thakur, President HPCA and Member of Parliament, Hamirpur, said, “HPCA from the beginning has been a community driven association committed towards the betterment of the society. The association has a history of serving the society by adopting noble initiatives which have impacted the society positively. ‘Padhai bhi, Safai bhi’ campaign is another attempt of the association aimed at promoting good health and sanitation in the state.”

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In the zone – West

Axar Patel reflects on a good domestic season for Gujarat

Axar Patel has been in the Indian team since 2014. While playing for India at the highest level has certainly helped him grow, the experience has also benefitted his state team, Gujarat in domestic cricket. He was instrumental in helping his home team win the Vijay Hazare Trophy in the ongoing 2015-16 with some miserly spells.

At a young age, Axar has become one of the key players for Gujarat. As the season enters its last leg, he can look back with satisfaction on how well the team has done especially in the shorter formats of the game.

Axar said, “We have a good side for limited overs and T20 cricket as we have all-rounders (in the team) who can finish the game. I was playing at No. 7 there. We had a good balanced side and have done very well this year. We won the Vijay Hazare Trophy. We did well in T20 tournament (Syed Mushtaq Ali), but were out (of the competition) after one defeat.” He pointed out that with the presence of the experienced players, the youngsters too have grown and the team now knows how to go about their business in the big games.

Axar, who was part of the ODI team against Australia, joined his state team in Kanpur for the Deodhar Trophy immediately on returning from the tour. “Obviously, there is passion, and the more you play, the more you learn. No match is big or small. You get to learn irrespective of whether you win or lose,” he said about his participation. For him, it is important to adjust and play matches in such situations. “It was good for me that I played there (Kanpur) as I got to know what I have to do (to improve and learn),” he says.

There is keenness in Axar to not only perform well, but also learn with each passing game. The spinner continues to work on different aspects of his game as he works his way forward.

This season, Axar has also added some flight to his armoury. He explains that the batsmen observe you and you need to have more tricks in your bag. You need to have a Plan B which will help you break predictability he explains while discussing his bowling. “You cannot bowl only one way. You need to do different things as the batsman sees what you do (and works on negotiating you). I back my strengths — like the armer. But, I also try to flight and beat them with some turn. If the batsman gets to know you bowl one way, what is my Plan B? So, I keep thinking about that Plan B and I want to try different deliveries,” he elaborated.

Armaan Jaffer, Jay Bista shine for Mumbai U-23

Armaan Jaffer, who has been in excellent form this season especially in the longer format of the game, smashed 181 to help Mumbai post a big score against Maharashtra in the Under-23, Col CK Nayudu semi-final on returning from the Under-19 ICC Cricket World Cup.

The young batsman, who had scored three consecutive double-centuries for the Mumbai Under-19s in the Cooch Behar Trophy, 2015-16 had displayed his skills with a couple of good knocks in Bangladesh as well. He had showcased his ability to stay in the middle and guide the innings, while trying to maintain the flow of runs in the matches during the CWC.

On return Armaan followed up the semi-final performance with a 60-run knock in the ongoing final against Madhya Pradesh U-23s as Mumbai posted 577 in the first innings. While there were useful contributions by the line-up to help the team build a formidable total, it was Jay Bista’s double-century that helped them to a mountainous score.

Bista, who had made his debut for Mumbai’s senior side earlier in the season, has led the charge for the Mumbai U-23s. In the quarter-final against Baroda U-23s, Bista smashed 128 as Mumbai chased 279 to win the game. His 217 runs in the final takes his runs tally to over 1000 runs in the tournament at an impressive average. These performances will hold the batsman in good stead as he looks to make his mark in the senior domestic circuit in the coming seasons. 

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