Teen Kashvee Gautam dreams of dismissing Harmanpreet Kaur, Jemimah Rodrigues in Sharjah

Kashvee Gautam. © The Indian Express

Remember Shafali Verma hitting those towering sixes in the last edition of the Women’s T20 Challenge at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur? She didn’t score too many runs in the three games that she was a part of representing Velocity under Mithali Raj, but her determination and the fearless, attacking approach at the top of the order impressed everyone including England opener Danielle Wyatt, who was her teammate.

A mixed tournament and a possible next big thing in Indian cricket back then earned her a national team call-up a few months later and the rest is history. Is anything similar waiting for young Chandigarh pacer Kashvee Gautam? The 17-year was named in the Smriti Mandhana-led Trailblazers side on Sunday (October 11) for the third edition of the tournament to be held in UAE from November 4.

“It’s a special feeling for me as I used to watch the previous editions of the Women’s T20 Challenge on television and would dream about being a part of the tournament one day,” Gautam was quoted as saying to The Indian Express.

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“I have been a big fan of Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur and Trailblazers captain Smriti Mandhana apart from Jemimah Rodrigues. If I get to take wickets of Harman di and Jemimah in Dubai, it will be a special moment for me. While we will remain in quarantine in Mumbai for a week before our departure, playing in the bio-bubble in Dubai will be a new experience for all of us.”

The student of standard XII, Gautam rose into limelight when she did an Anil Kumble in a U-19 domestic one-dayer. The then 16-year-old, a medium-pacer, became the first Indian woman to take 10 wickets in an innings against Arunachal Pradesh, including a hat-trick. She also scored 49 runs with the bat in the match.

With such a feat,  a call-up in the tournament was waiting in the wings. Her fellow state mates and Indian internationals Taniya Bhatia and Harleen Deol were also chosen for the tournament.

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Gautam was first spotted by former First-Class cricketer Sanjay Dhull when she was used to playing the game with the boys in her locality. Dhull enrolled her under coach Nagesh Gupta in 2016. She went on to play for Punjab U-16, U-19 and U-23 teams before shifting base to UTCA last year.

“Making the shift to Chandigarh helped me as I was the first choice pacer and also was given the opportunity to bat high in the order. The BCCI U-19 and U-23 tournaments gave me an opportunity to bowl at different venues and it helped me to be consistent,” she said.

“I was looking forward to playing in the U-23 one-day quarterfinals before COVID forced all cricketing activities to stop. Initially, I focused on my fitness before I worked on improving my run-up and batting stance under my coach Nagesh sir. The pitches at Sharjah, where the matches are expected to be played, are flat and I have to rely upon variations for getting wickets.”

With the likes of legendary Jhulan Goswami by her side in the dressing room, Gautam will surely come out as a different bowler when the tournament ends on November 9. In addition, she will also have the liberty to share her thoughts with No.1 T20I bowler Sophie Ecclestone, hard-hitting allrounder Deandra Dottin and more.