At this point, Kiran Navgire needs no introduction. She has been the talking point of the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy tournament so far. Nobody has more runs in an edition than her. Nobody has scored more sixes than her. With 469 runs at 180.38 with an average close to 157, she has been breaking records, one at a time.
Talking about her performance, Kiran Navgire says that she is just executing her plans at the moment and is working well for her.
“When I got selected for the Maharashtra team, I was not getting the opportunity as many international players, including Smriti Mandhana, were playing at that time. Here in Nagaland, things are different. So, I made a promise to myself that as an opener, I must try and play all the 20 overs no matter how many runs I score. I just have to build a partnership. It’s working well for me, I guess”.
Coming from Malshiras, Maharashtra, Cricket wasn’t really the first love for Navgire. She was into Javelin Throw as her school had only athletics.
“I began playing Javelin throw because there was no cricket training in my school. They only had athletics, and my dad, who loves the sport, encouraged me to join. For four years, I played for the district.”
She was good at it as well. In 2009, she finished third in the state-level competition. She wasn’t happy with her result and pushed herself to work harder. The next year, she won the gold medal in the same event. As she made heads turn, a local newspaper carried an article about her achievements.
“A social worker read the article in the newspaper and asked me to move to Baramati for better training and took care of all my expenses.”
Baramati not only had helped her in Javelin Throw. There’s more. She also got introduced to cricket. However, she couldn’t take up the game at that time.
“When I moved to Baramati, I came to know that there is a girls’ cricket team. I tried to get into the team, but I was asked to focus on my javelin throw. I did that and even won a few medals”.
After finishing her schooling, she moved to Pune for further studies, where she took up cricket for the first time but once again, there was a stop as she got selected for the All India Javelin Throw tournament.
“I met my sir, Deshmukh, in Pune. He asked me to take up cricket. In the 1st year, I played in inter-college tournaments, but I couldn’t continue as I qualified for the All India tournament in the Javelin throw.”
Unfortunately, she couldn’t find a proper coach and had to give up Javelin Throw. As she began to concentrate on her studies, cricket crossed her path. Once again.
“I moved to Ahmednagar for further studies and in order to find a job to support my family. I came to know about a cash cricket tournament in Pune from someone who knew my game and wanted me to perform well. They watched me play in the tournament where I scored 30-odd runs in one of the matches. They loved what they saw and offered to help me with my cricket.”
Her professional cricket journey began when she came to Pune. “I played in the Senior league arranged by Pune District Cricket Association (PDCA) in the very 1st match against Baramati, I scored 139* from 61 balls. By the end of that tournament, I scored 380 runs in four matches.”
The numbers impressed PDCA’s vice-president, who wanted her to try for Maharashtra.
“The Vice-President took me to Dhule for selection trials, I remember scoring only 19 runs in one of the trials, at that time, I was scared because there were international players like Devika Vaidya and Anuja Patil. I was not selected that year”.
With the backing from her family and PDCA, she continued to practice. Her normal day would begin at 4 am and it goes until the evening.
“In 2017, I was selected in the top 30 for Maharashtra, and I got a chance to play against Mumbai in Lonavala for a practice match where I scored a half-century. My first tour was in Vijayawada, where I debuted against Railways”.
As she wasn’t getting many opportunities in the Maharashtra line-up, she had decided to move to Nagaland as a guest player.
“I knew I’m capable but I had to wait for opportunities. Time was ticking too. At that time, Nagaland was in search of a guest player. So, I decided to move there”.
Thanks to Kiran Navgire’s all-round performances, Nagaland ended the league matches unbeaten; at the top of the Plate Group table. She has scored 49 boundaries and 32 sixes in the ongoing Senior T20 Trophy. “Javelin Throw training has helped me in clearing those boundaries in cricket”, she says.
A big fan of MS Dhoni, Kiran Navgire wants to finish matches like him. “Being a big fan of MS Dhoni, whenever I bat, I think about how MS Dhoni would handle that situation… I wish to meet him at least once someday”.
She adds that she is hopeful that she will get an opportunity in the upcoming Women’s T20 Challenge and adds that her dream is to play for the country ultimately.
“My dream is to play for India. I think about it every day and I also want to lift the World Cup for the country. So, you can imagine how excited I’m for the Women’s T20 Challenge which will be one step towards my goal. I know there are opportunities in front of me, and I do not want to miss any. I want to score in every match I play”.
Interview by Kalyani Mane