Patiala, November 23
Having failed to find cricket coaching for girls in Patiala at a young age, Mannat Kashyap has played against boys for long. She now considers it a boon. The 18 years and 11 months old has been selected in the India Under-19 women’s team and will participate in the home series against New Zealand.
While talking to The Tribune, the left arm off-spinner said she had been practising since when not many girls took interest in playing cricket. Her father Sanjeev Kashyap introduced her to the sport when she was just nine. He said, “No one in Patiala used to coach girls at the time. Institutes used to ask me to take all responsibility for her and offered that she could play against boys only. I made her play with the boys. It was not easy and we did not let her lose confidence; rather made her strong.”
She said it was never easy, but considered the same a boon. “I have played against boys for most of the time. I started playing with the girls only at championship level. It helped build confidence that I will be able to perform very well against girls.”
Mannat said she was happy that girls were taking interest in the game. “Earlier, the girls’ matches did not even attract crowds. Now people have also started pouring in.”
The class 12 student at Government Girls’ Senior Secondary School in Patiala idolises captain of India women’s national cricket team Harmanpreet Kaur and her cousin Nupur Kashyap who represented Punjab. “I used to see didi play and wanted to do it like her. That is when I decided that I wanted to represent and play for India at the international level.”
In fact, Mannat was earlier studying at a CBSE-affiliated private school. Juhi Jain, her coach, said, “She shifted to the government school from 9th standard as her previous school wanted her to focus on her studies as well. It was affecting her output on the field. Therefore, she had to change her school for the sole purpose of playing cricket.” She added that performance wise, Mannat was doing her best.
Her father Sanjeev is a city-based businessman while her elder brother is a doctor at AIIMS, Rishikesh.
Sanjeev said he was shocked when informed about her selection. “She has worked hard for this. We supported her throughout the time. From the beginning, I said she should focus completely on one thing — either sport or studies. I am proud of her.”
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