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Women's Cricket

From photo with Virat Kohli to playing for RCB — Shreyanka Patil

A Bangalore-based spinner who can bat in the finisher’s role, RCB’s Shreyanka Patil says the WPL has changed lives of many Indian women cricketers already.

From photo with Virat Kohli to playing for RCB — Shreyanka Patil

Shreyanka Patil with Virat Kohli in 2015 (left); being acquired by RCB in WPL 2023 


Dipankar Lahiri

Updated: 18 Feb 2023 4:34 PM GMT

Shreyanka Patil had been such a passionate fan of RCB that she had got a photo clicked with Virat Kohli during the IPL team’s practice sessions in Bengaluru in 2015.

Acquired by her hometown team in the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) auction this week, the 20-year-old all-rounder is one of the leading contenders to play as a spinner for the star-studded women’s RCB side in the WPL from March 4.

“I have a photo with Virat Kohli as a fan. He didn’t talk to me then. I have that photo framed in my house. It has always been Virat Kohli. It’s because of him I started watching cricket,” Shreyanka told The Bridge.

A devoted RCB fan from the age of 13, Shreyanka’s journey into cricket started with the frenzy of the IPL.

“There’s so much joy the IPL brought, it made me think there’s something happening globally, that there’s hope for women’s cricket too. I somewhere knew there could be a women’s IPL soon,” she said.

The Karnataka all-rounder said she would like to have a conversation with Kohli this time around, and that she would like to have photos with all of the superstars she shall be playing alongside.

“Playing in the first WPL with so many legends will be a memory I’d like to take with me. To be in the same team as Smriti Mandhana, Ellyse Perry, Richa Ghosh is an honour for me. They have gone through so much already, to share the dressing room with them is a dream come true,” she said.

She has lots of questions she wants to ask her superstar colleagues, but joked that she needs to space all of them out over the duration of the 23-day league.

An off spinner who bats at 5 for Karnataka, Shreyanka finished as the second highest wicket taker in the Senior Women’s One Day Trophy last season. RCB have an abundance of riches in their batting and seam bowling department, but will be relying on some younger Indians for their overs of spin. Which is where local girl Shreyanka’s skillset could be invaluable.

“I don’t want to have any fixed roles in mind, I just want to express myself and do well for the team,” she said about her possible role.

“I’m known as a wicket taking bowler, I’ve practised attacking bowling, bowling in the Powerplay and death overs too. In batting, my role is of a finisher. It’s a difficult role because you don’t get time to settle, you just get 5 balls to hit it out like a maniac,” she added.

A dramatic auction day, highest pay cheque, how WPL changes lives

After four sleepless nights when she had visions of being picked in the auction, the actual day of reckoning seemed destined to be a tragic one for Shreyanka Patil till the last hour of the hammer hitting the table.

She settled down to watch the auction action at 2:30 pm after a usual day of training, thinking she would watch it for the occasion, even if she ended up not being picked.

“There was a break at 6 pm for an hour, that was when I lost hope, because they said only 15 names could be picked in the next round. At 7:30, they called out my number; I thought I should be grateful at least my name had been called out. But I was so nervous I couldn’t watch, my hands were sweating. They called my name twice. I pleaded in my mind. And when they said ‘Sold, RCB’, I had literal tears,” she recounted the drama of the auction day.

Having lived alone on rent near her coaching centre - the NICE cricket academy - for the last two years, the next thing Shreyanka did was to go home to her parents to celebrate the news. When she reached home, she saw a crowd of neighbours were already waiting.

“Everyone knew I play cricket, but this was something new - they had come to know by themselves that I had got picked in the WPL auction. People I didn’t even know were telling me they always knew I was hardworking,” she said.

Like most of the 87 cricketers picked up by the five teams - RCB, MI, DC, GT, UP - the INR 10 lakh pay cheque is the biggest so far in Shreyanka’s career. For her parents - a businessman father and a homemaker mother - this is a sign their daughter has made it.

But the youngster feels she should not take any pressure because of the price tag, but take it as an opportunity to show her skills.

“Women’s cricket doesn’t have as many leagues as men’s cricket. The season is for 4-5 months, we are completely free for the rest of the year. For me, there was no U23 level to progress to after my U19 days, it was directly to the senior team, that also just 20-over and 50-over matches,” she said.

“To have a WPL added to this calendar will help everybody take the game seriously and put in the effort. It has changed so many players’ lives. So many domestic players, U19 kids getting these contracts, it is a big thing for them. Now we have an objective to work towards,” she added.

Eager to join the RCB camp, which is scheduled to start on February 26, Shreyanka Patil is hoping she can be the impact player helping RCB side clinch the WPL title, even as the IPL title continues to elude her idol Virat Kohli.

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