BENGALURU: When Karnataka medium-pacer Monica Patel learned about her inclusion in India’s women squad for the South Africa series, she had tears of joy. But since she came to know it on WhatsApp, she wanted to confirm it. The 21-year-old then rang her state teammate leg-spin all-rounder C Prathyusha, who also earned a maiden call-up, and the latter confirmed it. The duo now has dreams to make it big in India colours.
Prathyusha’s love for the sport only grew after watching matches with her dad on TV from an early age. When it comes to getting gifts from parents, she wanted a bat and ball, letting her parents know what she really wanted in life. “Whenever we went to the market or so, girls of her age, say four or five, would go after dolls and other toys, but she would go after the plastic bat, balls and stumps and we would buy that. That meant I also had to play with her at home,” revealed her father CN Krishna Prasad, who is a software engineer by profession.
“When she was around eight, I asked her what she wanted to pursue — cricket or academics. She said, ‘I want to play for India’. That is when I came to know how serious she was about cricket.” It was only after suggestions from other coaches, Monica became a pacer and Prathyusha started bowling leg spin. At the start of their career, Monica was an opener while Prathyusha a medium-pacer. Currently representing Bengaluru’s Herons Cricket Club, they encountered almost similar situations at the start of their careers. They started playing with boys in the beginning.
In fact, when Prathyusha played with boys, she was called Phoolan Devi by her teammates in a light-hearted way. Playing against boys, however, shaped them into competitive cricketers they are today. “Definitely, playing against boys helped. When you play against the boys, the standard is different. It also made me stronger,” said Prathyusha, who has led Karnataka U-19 and U-23 teams.
After having represented Karnataka at various age groups, their real test lies now as they gear up for the ODI and T20 series against South Africa, starting March 7 in Lucknow. With India playing an international series after a year, the rookies might not immediately get a place in the XI. But Monica is not worried.
“There are many seniors in the squad. I want to learn from them, gain experience, which will help me grow as a cricketer. But yes, whenever I get an opportunity, I want to deliver, make sure that I bowl fast and also give my best,” said Monica.