Challa Jhansi Lakshmi’s journey is nothing short of inspiration. As she continues to knock on the doors of the selectors, she opened up about her journey, the impact of the recent pandemic and the 1st-ever Andhra Premier League.
Jhansi Lakshmi had lost her mother at an early age. Her father was a construction worker, and she had to take up household jobs to support the family. Despite their financial struggles, her father encouraged her to continue the game. At seven, she made it to a nearby academy, and she never looked back.
Until 2011, Jhansi Lakshmi was a left-arm spinner, and she had to change to right-arm as her team needed one.
“Back in 2011, when I was playing U-16 for Andhra, there were no Right-arm off-spinners. So, my coach Mastan Reddy sir thoughtfully insisted that I should change my bowling arm. It wasn’t an easy process. I used to bowl in nets every morning and evening consistently for years. It took me almost three years to get to the place where I’m now”.
A few years later, she moved out of the house for better training. “Ten years ago, I moved out of my home and stayed in Guntur for better facilities. I stayed in a girls’ hostel until recently. Now, I stay in a rented house along with my father. He is 66, and I have to take care of him along with doing household chores”.
When the Government announced the lockdown, she was playing in the game before they were sent home. “During the Senior One Day trophy (2019-20), we played very well and qualified for the next round. The knockouts were in Baroda. We got to the place, but the very next day, the lockdown was announced, and we were all sent back home. Later for one and a half years, like every other profession, we couldn’t do much.
ACA continued to support us and conducted online classes for meditation, workouts and for cricketing strategies to strengthen us, but it wasn’t easy. We used to follow a schedule which was sent by our fitness trainer at our homes”.
During the pandemic, Guntur was one of the most affected places. This did put a halt to her cricket training as well. “When the lockdown was announced, I continued to stay at the hostel. There was no chance to practice every day, and we hardly could practice 1-2 times a week. I used every chance when I got to practice amidst the pandemic by taking utmost care with all the precautions”.
Challenger Trophy and Senior T20 Trophy
Talking about the recent Challenger Trophy, she said that it took her a couple of games to get over the nervousness. “I’ve played like how I usually play for Andhra, but the level of game changes as we play with international players. During the tournament, I struggled in the first couple of games, but once I got into the groove, I was able to perform”.
She adds that she was disappointed with the way the Women’s T20 Trophy went for her. “I feel like it was my worst performance. I do know that ups and downs are common for players. Win or lose, all we should have is perseverance towards our goal and continuous practice”.
Playing in 1st ever Andhra Premier League
Andhra recently introduced Andhra Premier League for women, and Jhansi Lakshmi was the captain of one of the teams. The tournament provided a platform for many youngsters as well. “When we heard about Andhra Women’s T20 league, we were all over the moon. I felt proud to play. Being an experienced player, I know what my responsibilities are and how I have to help out youngsters who are coming up. I really enjoyed captaining for Rayalaseema Queens”
Adding more, she said that these leagues help out youngsters to analyze themselves. “Match practice always helps out players to analyze their game. Playing more matches boosts one’s self-confidence. When young players are exposed to such leagues, that will cause a big positive impact at the state level”.
Jhansi, who admires MS Dhoni, said that she aims to represent India and she is working hard for it. “I’ve come a long way…fought against many struggles, and I never let myself down. These hardships have only made me stronger. I want to represent India. Wearing the blue jersey is my ultimate goal like every other girl who took up cricket. I’m Working on it. I’ll do my best.”
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