Thursday, December 07, 2023
Sports

Richer through various experiences, Titas Sadhu ready for ride with India women’s team at Asian Games

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | September 20, 2023 12:42 PM

NEW DELHI:Titas Sadhu's first call-up to the senior India women's team for the Asian Games was "anti-climatic," according to her. The 18-year-old had no prior inkling of Asian Games squad being announced that day. She was just about getting ready to go to bed on July 14, when suddenly a text came from one of her friends.

"The text from the friend said ‘congratulations’. I said ‘okay, thank you. But why?’ He was the one who sent me a screenshot of the list and I was like, ‘Ohh’. I was really awestruck, and then went down to tell my parents and came back,” said Titas in a chat with IANS before leaving for the Asian Games, facilitated by WhiteLeaf Talent Management.

As the feeling of getting a maiden call-up to the senior women’s team sank in, Titas, in her own words, was left wondering ‘yeh kya ho gaya’ (what just happened now). "It was too much to process really and I put my phone on silent mode and slept. That’s all I did. It was too much for me and I didn’t know what to do," she recalls with a laugh.

Titas had a fantastic 2023. She shot into the public limelight after helping India win the U19 Women's T20 World Cup final against England. She was named Player of the Match for her spell of 2-6 in four overs. Titas was amazing in India's World Cup win, taking six wickets with an economy rate of 4.27. She was great at moving the ball and bowling accurately, apart from pace.


That performance led her to join Delhi Capitals in the first Women's Premier League, but she didn't get a chance to play despite the team finishing as runners-up. In June, she struck with the new ball in India A’s two matches in a victorious yet rain-affected Women’s T20 Emerging Teams Asia Cup campaign in Hong Kong.

In a way, signs were there for Titas to get a senior call-up, though she didn’t foresee it coming quickly in a year where she has grown hugely as an individual and cricketer. "It obviously changes you as a person and it gives you much more experience, but also about different cultures. It’s really good as it helps me to learn a lot."

"It has also helped me to embrace a lot of changes and whatever it came with cricket, as it’s never always a straight graph; there are ups and downs. Exposures and experiences from this year have helped me a lot," she says.

Titas adds she was left in awe of the calmness exhibited by multiple World Cups winning Australia skipper Meg Lanning and South Africa’s fast-bowling all-rounder Marizanne Kapp during her time at Delhi in the WPL.

"It was a pleasure to not only share the team with them, but to get them to know as persons. Also, the opportunity to look at them play and do their stuff, right from the dugout, was an amazing experience. The calmness which both Kappie and Meg hold is so astonishing, like how can a person be so calm during the match like them.”

Nooshin Al Khadeer, who’s seen Titas from closest quarters as head coach of India’s victorious campaigns in U19 World Cup and Emerging Asia Cup, told IANS on Monday about the growth she’s seen in the youngster and how she can be a reliable asset in the senior team.

"What I saw in the U19 World Cup was Titas as a young kid raring to go. She has a lot of questions and is basically a question bank. She asks meaningful and inquisitive questions to know what is happening or not. Three-four months back, I saw her in the Emerging Women’s Asia Cup tournament and there I saw a different Titas. She was stronger and extremely fit."

"In three months, I saw Titas develop from a kid at the U19 level to seeing her show maturity at the Emerging level. I was very glad to see her and I am actually looking forward to see what she can get on the table for the Indian team, because it’s a right time for her to come in. She’s been extremely good and not just her bowling, she can also be very impactful with the bat. She can score some runs in the lower-order and does sensible batting."

Hailing from Chinsurah, around 50 kilometres north of Kolkata, Titas was into sprinting and swimming in her younger years. Swimming, she says, came due to the culture nearby, where kids above four years learnt the skill to save themselves from drowning.

She admits of running more in cricket than in her tryst with sprinting, but is grateful to it for giving her "the necessary discipline which later on I needed in my career." But when cricket happened and her interest in the game grew, Titas feels the jump to try being in the sport was a collective decision.

"I don’t think there was one substantial moment in my career where I had the opportunity to think ‘haan, yeh karte hai (yes, let’s do this)’. I was in 11th standard when I was taken in for the senior Bengal side and that was my first opening as well to domestic cricket, something which I never played before."

"I had my half-yearly exams that time, and so, it was a difficult decision to make. Me and my parents collectively decided that we will give this a shot and take cricket for the next two years without any restrictions and then we will see."

"But since then, I never had the chance or opportunity to sit down and think that yes, this has to be done. It’s just that things kept on happening – the seniors happened, kept playing domestic for a year and then World Cup preliminaries began and it’s been a ride from there on.”

Her start with senior cricket in Bengal team wasn’t a good one, playing two matches and then not being in the eleven for the rest of the season. In the Bengal set-up was fast-bowling stalwart Jhulan Goswami, the team mentor, who Titas calls as "really supportive and giving crucial points" for making finer improvements in her game.

Recalling her entry into senior domestic cricket, she remembers how former India pace all-rounder Rumeli Dhar helped her a lot. "The first time I was playing domestic when I was debuting in senior T20s, she was the one who took me there and just pushed me to do as much as I can. I remember in the match against Assam, my yorkers weren’t good from my side."

"So, she made me bowl even when I was going for boundaries. She said, ‘You need this practice and do it’. She kept on pushing me and the best part was, if she told me something, and I wasn’t able to deliver, she always took the responsibility on her shoulders. That gave me the confidence to go out there and do whatever I wanted to do.”

In next year’s senior women’s T20 tournament, Titas came back stronger, taking seven wickets in five games to be the side’s leading wicket-taker. She acknowledges the support from her parents – father Ranadeep Sadhu is her primary coach – propelling to give her best on-field.

“It was pretty straightforward from my mom specially, like when I decided on cricket or something else, it wasn’t like you have to do this exactly only. It was always decided like whatever you do, you have to be one of the best in that. So, it was a drive towards being the best in not just one curriculum or activity.”

“Later on, when cricket presented itself, we didn’t really need to make a decision. Like, you are good at this and you continue doing it because you want to excel at it. My dad has always been a great support, he was the one I used to work with. I still talk a lot about cricket with him and he’s someone I can reflect of.”

"I speak to him about the skills and what all happened in practice sessions, and I can just reflect and get his feedback. Most of the time I hate those feedbacks, but still I take it, even if it pinches. If I look back at it, some of that feedback does become of a little help in future."

Titas also remembers a particular instance of dealing with a bad day on the field, where she was very upset after playing a "really, really, really bad match” and explained her coach, something which she feels has given her a rich perspective of countering lows in the sport.

"I explained him that this happened in a way and that’s why it occurred. So, he was like ‘Shaant (be quiet)’. He said to me, ‘when you do good, do you explain to me why you did good?’ I replied, ‘No, I don’t’. He said, ‘then why do you explain it to me when I did bad?’ I didn’t understand it that time. But now I get it that just one good performance can’t describe you as a player, like that one bad performance doesn’t describe you as a player.”

"You have to have that confidence in yourself that the next match, you are going to play, you will turn it around. It might not be in the next match or take some games to turn it around, maybe a month or year later. But you have to deal with it as that is what you have signed up for as it comes with the sport.”

An admirer of all-rounder Hardik Pandya and opener Shubman Gill, whose performances in IPL 2023 left her in awe, Titas said she relishes bowling in one-day matches and is working on providing batting power in the lower-order.

"I love bowling in one-days, but it has been a year since I played in the format. I feel that one-day gives you more opportunity to bowl your hearts out. I keep on working on my batting as even in the team dynamics, I have been pushed to work on it because it’s so crucial now and there are so many games where the tail has won games."

Titas is thankful to WhiteLeaf Talent Management for managing her since July and communicating in advance to avoid schedule conflicts and assisting with video shoots. She also spells out where her best joy lies in fast-bowling.

"The ultimate joy in fast-bowling will be like ball pitched on off-stump, going out on the nip, edged and taken at first slip." If India goes all the way to the gold medal in Asian Games, trust Titas to use her skills, maturity, and varied experiences in showing she’s ready to be in the side for long.

 
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