Ghaziabad’s gully cricket champ set to represent India ‘A’ women’s team
Almost a decade ago, 23-year-old Soni Yadav was rubbing shoulders with boys in her locality in Ghaziabad, swinging tennis balls to disrupt stumps and hitting half volleys to sixes and fours.
Today, she has been chosen in the India ‘A’ women’s team to play a T-20 tournament against Bangladesh after eight years of rigorous training. To get in this team, Yadav has slogged and spent endless days, bowling at nets to perfect her swing and pace.
An all-rounder, a right handed medium pacer and a right handed middle order batswoman, Yadav began her cricketing days in Govindpuram of Ghaziabad when she used to play in narrow lanes among boys of her age.
“I was the only girl in the team and I used to bowl pace, spin and even underarm depending on the situation of the gully (street) cricket. Those days I used to play cricket as I used to love this sport but I never really took up fast bowling as a career choice. It was only in class 11 that I started taking professional coaching from Sanjay Nagar sir,” said Yadav.
Today, as she is selected in the India ‘A’ women’s team, Yadav is certain that her gully cricket friends will be proud of her.
“I am still friends with those whom I played gully cricket and I still meet them. I am sure my friends Nishant and Rohit will be proud of me when they will see me playing on their TV sets,” said an ecstatic Yadav.
Yadav’s family comprises her mother and elder brother as she lost her father when she was an infant. Her relationship with cricket goes deep as she narrates the love for this sport in her family.
“My father Kamlesh Yadav suffered a heart attack and passed away when I was a toddler. He used to love cricket and one day, when my mother Mithilesh Yadav realised that I had started playing with boys in my mohalla, she told me how my father was a huge cricket fan and how I picking up this sport is a sign that this is what our family wants from me. My family never stopped me from playing cricket and gave me all the liberty I needed,” said Yadav.
She has completed her schooling from Saraswati Vidya Mandir in Govindpuram and she pursued BA course from Gargi College, Delhi University.
“It was in my college days that I started rigorous training under Ajay Verma sir and he has been my coach for the past six years. Under his guidance, I have played Ranji, zonal and even at the international level for India in the world cup qualifying round,” said Yadav.
Today, Yadav is all set to lead the India A women’s team pace attack against Bangladesh women team from December 12 in Belgaum, Karnataka.
“We want to continue the same tempo and do a whitewash in the series,” adds Yadav.
Revealing her role model in cricket, she says that it is Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Indian Pacer, whom she emulates.
“I really like his bowling and I want to deliver my bowls like Kumar. I also admire his strategy while bowling,” said Yadav.
On December 12, when Yadav will lead the Indian pace attack, she for sure will be leaving behind patriarchal notions and underprivileged upbringing with her run-up as her gully cricket friends will be cheering out loud.