Shikha Pandey had a dream comeback as she returned to the national side after 15 months after being ignored by the selectors. The medium pacer had performed well for state Goa, South Zone, and in the Challengers Trophy this season.
Shikha talks about the comeback and many other things in her recent interview:
You last played for India in October 2021. Can you explain how you felt in your time away from the team?
I was heartbroken when I did not make the ODI World Cup squad last year but after a while resilience took over. I tried channelizing my energies better by improving my game. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to get picked for the tri-series and the World Cup. My main aim this season was to do well for the teams I played for, and I am happy to have done well.
How did you stay positive and worked on your comeback?
It surely was a dark phase, but the path that I was on and the goal I set out for myself was such that I had no other way than to be positive. I have a great family, coaches, and so many well-wishers and friends who helped me along the way. I did doubt myself, and thoughts of quitting came across my mind. But my mentors advised me not to take any decision in haste. And that trick worked.
Did you develop any hobbies during these months which kept your mind in the right space?
I have always loved reading. And I enjoyed the family time. All this helped as I could give my 100 percent to the teams I played with during the phase.
It is known that you went to Brisbane to compete in club cricket while you were striving to make a comeback. Did it help raise your confidence?
I went to Brisbane to play club cricket and venture out of my comfort zone. I was not in the World Cup or the Commonwealth Games teams. So, I thought of going to Australia. It surely helped me and I enjoyed the game. I got in touch with Belinda Clark (former Australia cricketer) to help me set a few goals, not entirely cricket related, and I am fortunate that it all materialised. She was just great and I am thankful to her for her valuable time and guidance.
A lot has changed in the team set up since you last played for India. How do you look at the new-look team?
It is a young Indian side that is very capable and has many glorious years ahead of it. Mithali di and Jhulu di and all the ex-cricketers paved the way for this generation. It is great to see a medium pacer like Renuka Thakur and the whole bowling group doing well.
Talking about your bowling, is there anything you have tried to imbibe and discover?
I have worked hard on consistently hitting those length areas, backing my skills, and staying in the moment. I am grateful for the opportunity that I have and want to do well in these coming tournaments.
Women’s cricket in India is going to experience a new high with the BCCI introducing the women’s IPL in March. How will such a T20 league uplift the sport and the players?
It will be a massive step towards the development of women’s cricket globally. The kind of exposure domestic players will get playing alongside the internationals will be huge. More matches would mean a lot more girls watching their idols on the TV every day and dreaming bigger. This will result in a major shift in the Indian parents’ outlook with them letting their kids, daughters in particular, take up professional sports as a career.
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