Women’s T20 Challenge ignites the cricketing dreams of 12-year-old Pari

Priyanka Nirmal
Priyanka Nirmal. ©Mumbai Mirror
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The recent success of the Women’s T20 Challenge in the United Arab Emirates has given the youngster Priyanka Nirmal aka Pari a big dream to play for the country one day. However, for Pari, who belongs to a small town called Karari in Kaushambi district of Uttar Pradesh, this is nothing but a herculean task given the obstacles she has been facing on a daily basis.

Priyanka Nirmal
Priyanka Nirmal. ©Mumbai Mirror

Women’s T20 Challenge helps to generate interest among the youngsters like Pari and one of the biggest examples could be Shafali Verma, who also earned her maiden call-up post a successful tournament last year in Jaipur. However, for the 12-year old aspiring all-rounder, this is nothing but impossible as she doesn’t know how to proceed despite knowing her destination.

“I want to play for India. Just like Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana,” said Pari to Mumbai Mirror.

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“She, perhaps, is the only girl in Kaushambi district who plays cricket. At least that’s what we know. And when I say cricket, I mean serious cricket,” her mentor and coach Shailendra Singh said to Mumbai Mirror.

Meanwhile, the youngster has two other coaches, Mohammed Aadil and Mohammed Talib – they both are aspiring cricketers. They have said that they always try to find out ways to push-start the youngster’s career.

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“She plays with the boys here because there are no options. She bowls at them, faces them with the bat in the nets. The boys are ruthless when bowling. She’s only becoming tougher. But unless she plays with other girls, we won’t know her true potential,” shared Aadil.

While talking about how she took up cricket only two years ago, she certainly didn’t have a proper answer. “Why? Even I can’t answer that question. I felt I was born to play cricket. I never thought about the obstacle I’d say, in my growth. Never thought how many girls played in my town or district. All I know is I want to play cricket,” she added.

However, her journey wasn’t at all hurdle free as like many her family too wasn’t familiar that girls play cricket. But, the youngster convinced her parents and managed to start her practice in the boys’ academy there.

“A girl from my neighbourhood had been kidnapped and my parents were reluctant and concerned about sending me, especially my grandmother. They felt it would be unsafe. But I convinced them I could take care of myself. I also told them that a few boys from the vicinity were going for practice and I could join them,” revealed the young all-rounder.

Meanwhile, she is the only girl who plays cricket and due to lack of facilities, she is yet to play competitive cricket. So far, she has played only a few friendly matches with the boys.

“Those are the only matches I have played. I am yet to play with girls of my age. Where do I play? Women’s cricket matches take place in Allahabad (over 50km from Karari). How do I get there?” asks Priyanka Nirmal, who also wants to be a fast bowler like Jhulan Goswami.

While the tournaments like Women’s T20 Challenge gives the opportunity to the youngsters to showcase their talents, the future of many like Pari remains uncertain with so many limitations.

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