Cricket Women Cricket

An inspiration: Happy Birthday, Shikha Pandey!

Headbands are beautiful. However, it doesn’t go great with many players. Devine can pull it off but it is not as identity sort of thing for her. Pandey really owns them.

She adjusts the band, runs in all quick. She has her eye on the stumps, opens her right hand and gets ready to release the ball when she comes near the umpire. She would bend releases the ball while watching the batter till the end. The ball would kiss the fifth or fourth stump line and would dip in. The curvature is not great but tricky. Kapp’s dismissal in an ODI in 2014, Wilson’s dismissal recently are the two deliveries that come to my mind immediately.

Pandey is a leader by nature both on and off the field. She knows what it takes to be one at least, hey, I’m are talking about Air Force Squadron leader here. She knows exactly what her team needs from her and she brings it to the game.

Of course, there were a lot of tweaks to her bowling in recent times. She would love to bowl even it is in the nets and would understand what she misses and would correct herself. Players like her are super difficult to find.

During the last T20 World Cup, she had to sit out, blame her inconsistency as well but it was a shocker. India preferred youngsters at that time. She would have been disappointed but as cool as she is, she recollected herself to put all efforts on the game and got back within months. Now, she is the leader of the pace attack in the team. With no Jhulan around, she did take up the responsibility well as other youngsters are still work in progress.

With the talent and the mindset she has, it is easy for any captain to rely on her during the difficult times. Even when the team needs only a few runs, she would back herself, would stay cool to produce yorkers or pretty inswingers to save the day.

In the recently concluded World Cup, India and New Zealand played one of the rollercoaster matches. India was on topmost of the time but then Kerr happened. The storm almost knocked India. Needing 16 runs to win in the final over, Kerr looked confident. However, Pandey knew what she had to do and made sure to take India home safe.

With no Jhulan around, India really does need Pandey to step up every single time, considering the fact that India would normally play with more spinners. While her role is pretty hard, she makes it look like cakewalk these days.

One thing I love in Pandey other than her bowling is her fitness as well as how disciplined she is. As Jhulan quoted once, she would hit the bed early and would wake up early. She would hit the nets at the right time and follows the routine right. She does bring that quality to her game, makes it special.

Her batting is certainly underutilized, blame the batters in the team. India is full of them and it is difficult to make Pandey bat ahead. When she does, she does provide some entertainment. Also, she knows how to rotate the strike well.

Once again, her performance in 2014 ODI against South Africa is an example. She scored a brilliant fifty batting at the top after bowling all the ten overs.

The way she built her innings was amazing to watch, and I do wish the team make her play ahead.

For years to come, Pandey will continue to lead India’s bowling attack and will be the trump card. Her headband would tell so many lovely stories as we go ahead.

Happy Birthday, Pandey!

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