CHENNAI: Siliguri is a small town in northern West Bengal. That’s where Wriddhiman Saha is from. On Sunday, one more cricketer from this city in the foothills of the Himalayas made it to the Indian team.
Meet Richa Ghosh, the latest teenager to enter the Indian women’s team. The batswoman is part of a 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup starting in Australia on February 21. A stellar outing in the recent women’s Challenger Trophy propelled the 16-year-old into the team led by Harmanpreet Kaur.
“I’m happy to get this opportunity. Batting is my strength. I will try to contribute as much as I can,” said Richa, who was playing a local tournament in the outskirts of Kolkata when she got the news. Incidentally, she has a chance to emulate her idol Sachin Tendulkar, who made his international debut when he was 16. It was her father’s passion that drove Richa to cricket. Manabendra Ghosh played club-level and turned to umpiring after realising he would not make it as a player. He sowed interest in her by taking her to the grounds when she was just three. As she started showing promise, he put her in a coaching camp in Kolkata.
It was a struggle for Manabendra. With two daughters — Richa’s elder sister is pursuing media science — and a bed-ridden mother, he gave up his business in 2016 to take better care of Richa’s cricket. Although based in Siliguri, he had to make frequent trips to Kolkata to see how his daughter was doing. “I had to give whatever time I had to her. I cannot open a business and shut it down temporarily when I was travelling. It takes 12-13 hours to reach Kolkata. If she is playing in any tournament in Kolkata, I quickly pack my bags. She is a small girl, we can’t leave her alone,” he said. At 11, Richa made it to the U-19 Bengal team. Eventually, she broke into the U-23 side and also the senior team when she was 12 and-a-half. She was named Bengal cricketer of the year in 2018.
Squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodriguez, Harleen Deol, Deepti Sharma, Veda Krishnamurthy, Richa Ghosh, Tania Bhatia, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gaikwad, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Arundhati Reddy.