Meet Chandigarh’s Taniya Bhatia, new wicket-keeping sensation in India women team
Chandigarh, the cradle of international cricketers like Kapil Dev, Yograj Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Ashok Malhotra, Chetan Sharma and Siddharth Kaul (the latest entrant to the list), hadn’t given any woman cricketer of repute until Taniya Bhatia burst on the scene.
The 20-year-old wicket-keeper-cum-batter, who began training under coach Yograj Singh at DAV Senior Secondary School-8 when she was all of 9, made her T20 debut for India against South Africa in February this year.
It was her cricketer-turned-banker father Sanjay Bhatia, who first took young Taniya to Yograj, the hard taskmaster. A quick learner, she made her debut in the Punjab senior team at 13, after impressing everyone at the U-19 level. “I am fortunate to represent India after playing for 11 years, I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother,” says Taniya, who hasn’t learnt to drive and is still ferried around by her mother Sapna.
Taniya turns emotional when she recounts how Indian ODI captain Mithali Raj gave the India cap to her. “I have worked hard to reach this point, getting the cap from her made it all the more special,” shared Taniya, who wears jersey No 28, which happens to be her birth date. Though Taniya was also in the India ODI team for a series against South Africa, she is yet to make her ODI debut. Known to be sharp and quick behind the stumps, Taniya showed her mettle during the recent T20 tri-series in India against top teams like England and Australia.
Though Taniya hasn’t got many chances to bat despite playing in nine T20s for India, she has gained a lot by standing behind the stumps. “When you wear the India colours, listen to the national anthem before a game, you are filled with pride and you want to give your best,” beams Taniya, who trains at Guru Nanak Public School, Sector 36, under coach RP Singh, and is a student of MCM DAV College, Sector 36.
This youngster idolises England’s Sarah Taylor and Australia’s Alyssa Healy and wants to be as good as them behind the stumps. “They are the best. I watch their videos to learn from them. Tushar Arothe sir (Indian women’s team coach) too helps me in brushing my wicket-keeping skills,” says Taniya, who has set her eyes on the India team for the upcoming Asia Cup in June.
A prolific scorer for Punjab and North Zone in U-19, U-23 and at senior level in the recent years, she bats in the top order and likes to play an aggressive game.
“It is a matter of time before she gets to show her batting skills in the India team. Age is on her side. It is good that she is getting time to adjust to international cricket ahead of important series like Asia Cup and T20 World Cup,” says her coach RP Singh.
“She is the first woman from Chandigarh to have made it to the India team. I am sure she will motivate other Chandigarh women cricketers too,” he adds.
Inspired by her elder sister, Taniya’s younger brother Sahaj Bhatia, (15), a student at St Anne’s School, has also taken to the sport and is a budding wicket-keeper-batsman.