After ODI debut, USA eye T20 WC berth

It took five more years before the USA could play their first-ever ODI against Papua New Guinea in Dubai on April 11.
Sindhu Sriharsha
Sindhu Sriharsha

CHENNAI: When Sindhu Sriharsha left for the USA in 2013, after representing India at the U-21 level, the hopes of playing cricket at the international stage were all but packed and put aside.

She kept playing the game she loved for the USA colours, but she and many other USA players had to wait till 2019 for those T20s to get recognition as international fixtures. It was a momentous occasion for then 30-year-old, but playing the One Day Internationals still felt like a distant dream. It took five more years before the USA could play their first-ever ODI against Papua New Guinea in Dubai on April 11.

“When I decided in 2011 to pack up and be done with cricket and move to the USA, I didn’t think this is where I would end up,” Sindhu told this daily from Dubai. “It was amazing. I am definitely thrilled that all 11 of us got a debut at the same time for the USA team. It is something that we all have been working towards. We don’t generally play this format. Having said that, getting out there and getting a game in, under lights. It was kind of a dream come true. Obviously, it was quite emotional for some of us. Having waited for many years for this kind of moment to come, particularly for me, it’s taken 20 years in two different countries to finally have the cap. It was a pretty good feeling,” her eyes lit up speaking about the experience of playing the format.

Even when the result didn’t go their way in the first two ODIs, the second came against Scotland on April 14, Sindhu believes this experience alone has taught them a lot more lessons than the young team would have imagined. “It was kind of a historic day for USA cricket to step onto the field to play the ODI even though the results didn’t go our way, but I think there was an effort that was put out for the entire time that we were on the field. We worked hard to try and make it difficult for PNG as much as possible. It was amazing to just be under the lights and some of these kids, play some fearless cricket. So all of this also helps them focus on different from of cricket,” she added.

With ODIs ticked off their box, the next challenge for Sindhu’s side is to qualify for the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh via the Women’s Qualifiers. The 35-year-old believes this experience of playing a few fixtures ahead of the qualifiers will play a big role. “When we play the first match of the global qualifiers we would have played about six-seven games. At that time, we would have had a perfect runway towards the global qualifiers and made decisions about how we want to play our game,” the captain mentioned.

After a heartbreaking result in the 2022 global qualifiers, the USA have the singular aim of making it to the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh later this year. For someone like Sindhu, it would mean ticking off one more box in her long career, while showing the next generation of players what they can achieve.

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The New Indian Express