Ridhima Aggarwal’s earliest memory of cricket is associated with that infor mal, but hugely popular, version of the sport that is played in parks and on streets in almost every nook and corner of our country.
But that pastime transformed into passion for the youngster a couple of years ago when she got a chance to represent Haryana in the 58th National School Games under-19 girls’ cricket tournament.
The bronze medal at the event prompted Panchkulabased player to pursue cricket earnestly. So, she joined a coaching academy last April, and since then, has given a good account of herself, subsequently making it to Chandigarh and Punjab squads for district level and inter-state tournaments.
“While my interest in cricket was born during those ‘gully’ matches, it was the bronze at the School Nationals that actually helped me identify my true calling. At the same time, I knew that it would take some professional assistance and lot of hard work before I can make some sort of mark in the junior circuit. I am happy to have got some very good opportunities in such a short span of time,” shares the 16-year-old batswoman, who trains under coach Rajesh Patha at Leaders in Cricket academy, Sector 26 (Chandigarh).
After starting her training under Patha, Ridhima was pretty quick in picking up the technical nuances of the game, and a month and a half later, she booked her berth in the UT team for the Punjab inter-district cricket tournament.
A string of fine performances in the event helped the player make the cut in the selection camp for the North Zone under-19 inter-state championship. And it was at the camp that Ridhima showed her true potential.
“In the four practice matches played during the camp, I scored a couple of half-centuries and subsequently made it to the final 15-member Punjab squad. Later in the tournament, I also scored 62 runs in the opening match. It’s another thing that the team failed to make it to the national event, but personally I couldn’t have asked for anything more. After all, how many players make it to the state team just after five months of coaching?” says Ridhima, who studies in Class 11th at St Soldier School, Sector 28.
Giving her parents, Ramesh and Meenakshi Garg, and the coach entire credit of her success, Ridhima says, “While Patha sir has really worked hard to develop me as a player in such a short period of time, it could not have been possible without the support of my parents. But there is still a long way to go before I can cement my footing in the circuit.”
Having got off to such a fine start, what’s next on Ridhima’s radar? “This year I am looking forward to improve on my last year’s performances in the interdistrict meet and make it to the senior team. A good show there will eventually help me realise the dream of representing India one day,” says the player, who regards cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar and Indian women cricket team captain Mithali Raj as her role models.