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Women's Cricket

Amid financial woes, free cricket training aids Women's T20 Challenge debutant Chandu V change fortunes

Chandu V talks about her experience and her struggles from the sidelines of her debut at the Women's T20 Challenge 2022.

Amid financial woes, free cricket training aids Womens T20 Challenge debutant Chandu V change fortunes

Chandu V of Supernovas in Women's T20 Challenge (Source: Sporty Pics)


Md Imtiaz

Updated: 25 May 2022 1:01 PM GMT

The four-game Women's T20 Challenge 2022 is being seen as the stepping stone for the Women's IPL which will commence in 2023. Once again, it has provided the stage for Indian women cricketers, especially the unheralded and uncapped ones to showcase their talent ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the T20 World Cup.

Among the three uncapped players in the tournament, Karnataka's Venkateshappa Chandu have a unique story to share. A girl who started playing professional cricket only at the age of 19, rose up fighting several challenges to fulfil one of her dreams, "Playing alongside the stalwarts of international cricket" shares the 27-year-old in an exclusive interview with
The Bridge
Chandu, who is playing for the Supernovas team in the Women's T20 Challenge 2022 under the captaincy of Harmanpreet Kaur, is elated with the opportunity. She speaks about her experience of sharing the dressing room with the players like Kaur, England's great Sophie Ecclestone, and West Indies' Deandra Dottin, among others. "I am simply grateful to the selectors, the coach and my captain Harmanpreet who have given me the opportunity to showcase my talent on the big stage," says Chandu.
The Moga-born cricketer stays with her family in Bengaluru. While her father Venkateshappa is a ward boy at a hospital, her mother Lakshmamma is a housewife. Chandu accidentally stepped into the cricket field when a coach named Divakar Jain conducted a cricket camp for girls in her school in Agara. Impressed by her bowling, she was inducted into the Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC) by coach Irfan Sait and Mohd Naseeruddin. The institute has been the breeding ground for Indian international cricketers like Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Veda Krishnamurthy, Vanitha VR, and Karuna Jain.

"When Chandu came to our camp, she was like any other kid. The economic condition of her family was not well. We saw the spark in her and decided to train her for free," says Irfan who is proud of his ward for making it to the Women's T20 Challenge. He adds, "We were all stunned by her curiosity, which was even more than the boys. When the South African spin bowling coach Harry Shapiro came to the KIOC for his camp, Chandu became one of the prominent members of the camp and that was her turning point."
Chandu admits that her life was changed after getting into the academy. "I was learning cricket at KIOC for free. I even didn't have the bus fare to commute to the academy so my coaches asked me to assist them in training youngsters in the academy. They even paid me for that stint, which sufficed to meet my daily needs. I am thankful to my coach Mamatha Maben ma'am, Rachel ma'am, Veda Krishnamurthy and Samarth Hegde sir who have also helped me a lot."
Chandu has been a regular on the Karnataka state team since the 2014-15 season where she proved to be menacing with the new ball. The right-arm off-spinner topped Karnataka's wicket chart at the Senior Women's T20 Trophy, with eight wickets, including a five-for in five innings.
Playing for India B in the 50-over Challenger Trophy in December 2021, she emerged as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament. She was also the joint second wicket-taker in the Senior One Day Trophy, where she guided Karnataka to finish as the runners-up with 14 wickets in six innings, including another five-for against Saurashtra. The recent streak of performances gave Chandu a chance in the Supernovas squad.
"When I broke the news to Chandu about her selection in the T20 Challenge squad, she couldn't believe me. She thought I was pulling off a joke," quipped Irfan.
The Supernovas have played two of their group matches in the tournament and despite a loss in their second game against Velocity, they are on the top of the table because of their net run rate. Velocity's victory over Trailblazers will see both Supernovas and them reach the final.
Chandu who returned with figures of 0/26 in three overs in the first match for Supernovas, went for 23 in her two overs against Velocity for no wicket. Expectedly so, the 27-year-old was nervous before setting her feet to play the biggest match of her career. "I have never been so nervous like this before. There were butterflies in my stomach. But I believe on a personal front, the second game eased the nervousness in me a bit," recalls the spinner.
She goes on to delineate her observations playing on a big stage like this. "I've come to this stage playing domestic cricket so far, and here I get to see that the pressure is way more intense than where I have been playing so far. There are players with tons of experience who know how to remain strong mentally during such stressful situations," says Chandu.
Chandu is though not satisfied with her performances in the previous two matches for Supernova, she is quite confident that her learnings from the tournament will further strengthen her as a cricketer. She says, "Playing alongside some of the best cricketers in the world and imitating them have taken me one step ahead in my career. And I think this exposure has made me realise my shortcomings which I will look forward to correcting." She adds, "To be honest, I was not expecting of getting an impressive five-for in my debut in this tournament, but, I was hoping to make some breakthrough that could have furthered my cause in the national team."
With eyes on the final, Chandu will get another chance if Supernovas make it through capitalising on their run-rate advantage and maybe we could expect to see the usual spark that Chandu brings to the 22-yards with her mind-boggling deliveries that have so far troubled the opponent batters in domestic cricket.

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