At Kandivali’s Sunrise Hall, Radha still the local star

Soni has seen her younger sister evolve from playing under-arm cricket in a nearby ground with their two brothers and the rest of the boys in the area to the World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in a span of seven years.
Radha Yadav of India(Getty Images)
Radha Yadav of India(Getty Images)
Updated on Mar 09, 2020 11:41 AM IST
Copy Link
Mumbai | ByRutvick Mehta

On the notice board of Jeevandip society—a Slum Redevelopment Authority building in the Kandivali area of suburban Mumbai—there is a handwritten message in Hindi. Loosely translated, it reads: “People of Jeevandip, come to the Sunrise Hall to watch the match. Yadav ji”.

Yadav ji is Omprakash Yadav, father of 19-year-old left-arm spinner Radha Yadav, and the match is the Women’s T20 World Cup final between India and Australia. Yadav has booked a small party hall two blocks away from his building to witness his daughter play in the big final on the big screen along with the others from the building and the locality. A big deal, you’d think, for a 55-year-old man who runs a makeshift grocery-and-vegetable store. But the hall was given in “dosti yaari (friendship)”—for free, that is—while the arrangements of a laptop and a projector were made by the youngsters of the building. That’s how much they all love Radha here. All Yadav had to do was soak in the excitement and keep his store closed for a day.

ALSO READ: ‘Verma ji ki beti’ does Rohtak proud

“It’s a small loss for my daughter’s big day,” he says. And oh, oblige the seemingly umpteen requests for television bites. It ensures the Yadav family misses the first over of the final. In the hall, there are around 75 people; children seated on the floor close to the screen, the others on chairs set in rows. As the Yadavs settle down, Radha is shown on the screen for the first time, fielding the first ball of the second over. Everyone in the hall dishes out a roar in unison. The final is well and truly on, at least for the Yadavs.

“Bahut jyada run de diye (We have given away too many runs),” Yadav says as the score reads 49 after six overs. “They have still kept Gayakwad on,” he tells his elder daughter Soni an over later.

“Radha will bowl around the 10th over,” Soni, 24, replies.

Soni has seen her younger sister evolve from playing under-arm cricket in a nearby ground with their two brothers and the rest of the boys in the area to the World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in a span of seven years. “She loved batting back then, but coach Praful Naik spotted something in her bowling. The turning point came when sir took Radha to Baroda in 2016,” she says.

True to Soni’s word, Radha is summoned to bowl in the 10th over. She concedes 12 runs, as Australia’s opening stand goes well past 100. The energy in the hall quickly turns into palpable nervousness.

“Chalo, Radha, wicket nikalo,” yells Soni before the start of her second over. True to her word again, Radha picks up India’s first wicket, sending back Alyssa Healy after a fine knock. People stand up celebrating; Yadav flashes a restrained smile, while Radha’s mother, Amravati, affords a clap with a wider grin. That the wicket might have come a bit late is known to Yadav.

“She bowled a good last over, but we gave away too many runs overall,” says Gufran Salmani, the owner of a nearby salon where Yadav gets his haircuts.

As the final drifts away from India with a flurry of early wickets, so does the excitement inside the hall, with people slowly choosing to leave. Yadav and Amravati are still seated, though, and they do so till the last ball of the match. “This was just her (Radha’s) first examination, there will be many more opportunities,” Yadav says, without a hint of sorrow. “She will continue to become a better cricketer and a human, and so will this young team.”

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, January 22, 2022