Taniya Bhatia of India during the India women’s practice session at the Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai. (BCCI)
ON THURSDAY, as BCCI announced 26 women cricketers who will form the two teams called IPL Trailblazers and IPL Supernovas for the first- ever Women’s T-20 Challenge match to be played ahead of IPL qualifier at Wankhede stadium on May 22, Chandigarh cricketer 20-year-old Taniya Bhatia was attending a seminar for cricketers in Mumbai. Bhatia, who had become the youngest player to play for Punjab senior women’s team in 2011 at the age of 13 years, will be donning the wicket-keeping gloves for the IPL Supernovas team which will be captained by Harmanpreet Kaur and has the presence of players like 2010 ICC World Twenty-20 player of the final Ellyse Perry and 2014 ICC World Twenty-20 highest scorer Meg Lanning. Sixteen Indian players and 10 international players will be part of the match.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to play in the first-ever T-20 Challenge match ahead of the IPL Qualifier. As a cricketer, we all have dreamt to play for a T-20 team. Harmanpreet has been our captain for the Indian team too and playing under her along with sharing the dressing room with players like Ellyse Perry and Meg Lanning will be a special moment for me. I will be seeking valuable tips from Australian wicket-keeper Alyssa Healy, who will be the wicket-keeper for IPL Trailblazers and whose videos I watch to learn. After the tri-series against Australia and England, I scored one century for Punjab in BCCI U-23 tournament and I have also spent time on my fitness and stamina in the last one month,” said Bhatia, who trains at Guru Nanak Public School, Sector 36, under coaches R P Singh and Jaswant Rai and is a student of MCM DAV College for Women, Chandigarh.
Bhatia, who started playing at the age of seven under former Indian cricketer Yograj Singh at DAV Senior Secondary School School, Sector 8, scored three half centuries in last year’s BCCI U-23 Tournament. The youngster was named in the Indian team probables’ list for last year’s World Twenty-20 World Cup before making her debut for Indian team against South Africa in the five-match T-20 series in February this year. Bhatia was also named in the Indian team for Asia cup to be played in Malaysia next month and has three catches and four stumpings to her name in nine internationals T-20 matches for India.
“Playing in this T-20 Challenge match will be a dream come true for Taniya. When the first edition of IPL took place in 2007, she trained under Yograj Singh and met Yuvraj Singh too who played for Kings XI Punjab in the initial years. Taniya would also cheer for IPL teams and tell us that one day, she will also play in T-20 format,” said Taniya’s father 48-year-old Sanjay Bhatia, who is the branch manager with Central Bank of India, Sector 44, and a former All India University level wicket-keeper.
On Thursday, Taniya’s mother Sapna Bhatia was busy in dropping Tanya’s younger brother 15-year-old Sahej Bhatia to cricket training. “My favourite team in IPL is Kings XI Punjab. While KXIP chances of reaching the qualifiers are less, we will be cheering for Taniya this time before the qualifiers,” said 46-year-old Sapna Bhatia.
Punjab senior women’s team coach R P Singh believes that the introduction of a women’s IPL will help youngsters like Taniya. “Taniya has cemented her place as a wicket-keeper in the Indian T-20 side and playing in the T-20 challenge will motivate her ahead of the Asia Cup in Malaysia. If BCCI plans of having an IPL league for women cricketers happen, it will be a huge opportunity for youngsters,” said Singh.