Meghna Singh, in India cricket squad for Australia, rewarded for 14-year toil

Aug 25, 2021 09:06 PM IST

Waking up at 4 am to travel for training since she was a young girl has helped the Uttar Pradesh pacer realise her dream with selection to all formats in the women’s squad.

Meghna Singh’s parents saw very early that their daughter was passionate about cricket. They still wanted to make sure it wasn’t a transient thing. Then the daily routine began—waking up at 4am to travel 24 kilometres from Kasba Kotwali to Nehru Stadium, Bijnore in interior Uttar Pradesh with her father for cricket training.

Meghna Singh
Meghna Singh

The travel was repeated in the evening as well, and 14 years since it began Meghna Singh has finally realised her dream. The 27-year-old pacer is one of three uncapped players to be included in the India squad for the September-October tour of Australia.

The Railways player and Baroda left-hand batter Yastika Bhatia have been called up for all three formats—India will play three ODIs, a one-off Day-Night Test and three T20s. Renuka Singh, a 25-year-old pace-bowling all-rounder from Himachal Pradesh, is the other uncapped player who has been included in the T20 squad.

Her struggle to shape her career went on uninterrupted, except a few years in between when she got a job in the Indian Railways and relaxed a bit.

A solid performance in domestic cricket in the pre-Covid year (2019) and for India A against Sri Lanka helped make a case for selection for the daughter of security guard Vijay Veer Singh and Reena Singh, who is an Asha (accredited social health activist) worker. She is the second woman cricketer from Uttar Pradesh—spinner Poonam Yadav is the first—to be selected for India.

“It’s the best opportunity for her to make her presence felt and stake a claim for a berth in the Indian team for next year’s ODI World Cup in New Zealand. She has the ability. I am sure she will come up with a good show in Australia,” her coach Lakshyaraj Tyagi said on Wednesday. “She has a wonderful out swinger and is a handy batter too.

“She is a natural outswing bowler and is expected to do well on the quick surfaces in Australia. I can call her a “banana swinger,” said Tyagi, who has produced many Ranji Trophy players for Uttar Pradesh.

Meghna’s father first took her to train under Tyagi in 2007. “She was a natural talent but her passion for the game was amazing. She would come to the stadium daily for both sessions, without a break,” he said.

Reena Singh said: “Meghna used to be the only girl playing with boys in the area. I always found her enjoying her game. We have treated her as the son of our family though she has a younger brother.

“With the call up for India, things have changed suddenly. Since last evening, I am busy attending phone calls, greetings from everyone.

Her father, a security guard at a sugar mill in Bareilly, said: “I always supported her passion for the game, never stopped her from playing. She was 10 when she started playing. Only after seeing her dedication for the game did I take her to Tyagi sir,” he said.

“It’s a dream come true for our family. We were waiting for this day. She is in the camp at Bengaluru and will fly to Australia on Sunday. Let’s hope she does well for India and makes all of us proud.”

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    Sharad Deep is a versatile sports journalist, who loves writing on cricket and Olympic sport. He has played cricket at the university level and has been writing for Hindustan Times since 1997.

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