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WPL 2024: With wrong-un and clear goals, UP Warriorz’ Parshavi Chopra eyes seizing her chances

Author : IANS

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New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) The UP Warriorz called upon leg-spinner Parshavi Chopra to take on a challenging role in her second game of WPL 2023: bowling the 17th and 19th overs. During a sunny afternoon at the Brabourne Stadium on March 20, Ashleigh Gardner and Dayalan Hemalatha had a formidable partnership of 93 runs.

The duo’s efforts meant the Gujarat Giants were in a promising position for a big total. Before WPL 2023, most of Parshavi’s 11 wickets in India’s triumphant U19 Women’s T20 World Cup campaign came via leg-breaks. But here, Parshavi unleashed the googly, aka the wrong-un, which helped the Warriorz turn the tables on the Giants.

On the first ball of the 17th over, Parshavi tossed up a wrong-un to Hemalatha, who couldn’t pick it and holed out to long-on. In the 19th over, Parshavi skillfully tossed up a wrong-un, tempting Ashleigh to step out of her crease.

Unfortunately, Ashleigh was nowhere near the ball and was effortlessly stumped by skipper Alyssa Healy. Getting out the two set batters’ was a testament to Alyssa's trust in young Parshavi's abilities.

Though Parshavi left little impact on her WPL debut against Mumbai Indians, she bounced back with crucial scalps against the Giants, which earned her plaudits from her Warriorz team-mate, left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone.

“I have always felt that my strength is my wrong-un (googly), and my bowling coach at the Warriorz, Ashley Noffke, told me that ‘Parshavi, you should aim to bowl more wrong-uns as T20 is a kind of format where you will be hit (for runs)’.”

“Plus, that ground was very small, and with that advice of depending more on wrong-uns as a leg-spinner. When she came, my plan was to focus more on my wrong-uns and that resulted in me taking her wicket,” recalls Parshavi in an exclusive chat with IANS, organised by the franchise.

Besides her four wickets in three games, Parshavi learnt an important lesson during WPL 2023. “Initially I thought, I just have to bowl my balls, irrespective of what the batters do. But I realised here that whenever you reach higher levels in cricket, one has to play with the mind of the batters.”

“For doing that, it depends on what the batter does at the crease, like whether she would step out or go for defending. I have it in my mind now to play with the mindset of the batter at the highest level.”

The simplicity and clarity of her current plan to unsettle the batters is apparent now. “The number of leg-break balls I bowl, the effort is to bowl the same number of wrong-uns. I always look for the strong zone of the batter; if she plays well over the covers, I will bowl more wrong-uns. If she plays cross-batted shots more towards deep mid-wicket, then I will bowl more leg-breaks.”

Initially, Parshavi pursued skating, yet she also had a strong interest in watching cricket games on TV. A common occurrence at home was the regular discussion of cricket among her father, paternal uncle, and grandfather, who played the sport at the district and zonal level.

At 10, Parshavi decided to pursue playing cricket and came under Vishal Bhatia, a coach at Yuvraj Singh Centre of Excellence (YSCE) in Greater Noida, in 2018, and then under JP Nautiyal.

“Despite not knowing whether she wanted to bat or bowl, she was very passionate about learning all things related to cricket. At that time, we had the Himachal U23 team practising at our grounds. Parshavi did some fielding practice alongside Harleen Deol,” recalls Vishal in an exclusive chat with IANS.

Parshavi took up medium-pace bowling, but switched to leg-spin after seeing bowling videos of the legendary Shane Warne. “I liked to see leg-spin from the word go and I didn’t even know leg-spin is also a kind of bowling in cricket.”

“But then I saw videos of Shane Warne and that got me thinking about learning this craft as I feel this is the most difficult art to master at cricket. I went to my coach and told them that ‘I want to be a leg-spinner’. They helped me a lot in learning about the art of bowling leg-spin.”

So, what's the most thrilling aspect of being a leg-spinner? Parshavi explained, “It’s that the leg-spin can be an outgoing delivery, while the wrong-un can be an incoming ball. A leg-spinner can have a lot of variations to trap the batters and my favourite way of dismissing the batter is via the googly.”

Bhatia attributes Parshavi's background in skating, quick learning ability, and focus on fitness as key factors in her flourishing as a leg-spinner. “In cricket, you need a lot of balance, whether you are fielding, batting or bowling. Skating in her initial days helped Parshavi get the desired balance.”

“Her body is agile and she has worked a lot harder on fitness this time. She has a very good grasping power and is very quick in understanding anything about the game and then works for hours to master those things.”

In her quest to improve her bowling abilities, 17-year-old Parshavi diligently studies videos of skilled leg-spinners like Yuzvendra Chahal, Adil Rashid, Amit Mishra, Adam Zampa, and Amelia Kerr.

However, one thing that has grabbed her interest is the art of cultivating mental strength, particularly for leg-spinners who face the constant threat of being hit for boundaries while striving to claim wickets.

“I feel that more than being physically strong, becoming a mentally tougher person becomes very crucial in sports, as what you think is actually what happens on the field. If you think negative, then you get into a negative situation.”

“If you think positively, then positive things happen with you on-field. Even if one isn’t talented or skillful much, but has a very strong mindset, then you can do anything in any situation in sports.”

After U19 World Cup win and WPL 2023, Parshavi was a member of India ‘A’ team winning Emerging Women’s Asia Cup in Hong Kong. Despite her lack of game time in domestic cricket, Parshavi has been unwavering in her preparations for WPL 2024.

“My preparation began right from the time the previous season ended in 2023. I was really excited about wanting to play and perform better in WPL 2024. My journey after playing in WPL 2023 has been very good and my intention right now is to do as much better as possible and always give my best. I have learnt a lot about newer variations from the coaches and taught me to be very mentally strong in different situations.”

Bhatia also delved into the specifics of Parshavi's preparation for WPL 2024. “We worked with a main focus on the googly, which is Parshavi’s main weapon. We also worked on bowling with various angles – like a new batter comes and isn’t aware about which delivery she will face.”

“But Parshavi knows what has to be bowled first – googly from round the wicket and over the wicket. Then we worked on bowling in the death overs, where a batter would try to get a lot of runs in short time.”

“For this, we worked on Parshavi’s defensive bowling – like how to save yourself and take out the batter’s wicket by assessing her weak points. Plus, bowl certain lengths as per the plans and problems a batter has during her stay at the crease.”

Bhatia also points out Parshavi can be a handy contributor with the bat now, seen from her amassing 153 runs in seven innings of Women’s Under 19 T20 Trophy. She also scored 293 runs in six innings of Women’s Under 19 One-day trophy, including a century and fifty.

“She has also worked very well on her batting too and one can look at the U19 matches she played in the recent domestic season, where she made a lot of runs. It will be an advantage as whenever a chance of batting comes to her, she will go out with the confidence of making runs with the bat.”

Parshavi's goal for WPL 2024 is crystal clear, just like her focused mindset: seize every opportunity that comes her way, game by game. “Whenever I get the chance in WPL 2024, it’s in my mind to not let it go waste. I will take everything one game at a time and put in my 100% efforts in every outing, after that whatever happens, will be seen.”

“For me, WPL is a kind of platform which I really liked and the more I get to play alongside experienced players, it will lead to more of my development as a player. I am very clear that in WPL 2024, whenever I get chances, I look to do well and make the team win.”

Bhatia, who played for Himachal Pradesh, has made it a point to watch Parshavi's matches in Delhi whenever he is not occupied with coaching. “I have full faith that with the hard work she’s put in preparing for WPL 2024, God will give her the result of those efforts. She has worked hard day and night; constantly did target bowling practice and I am sure she will get the benefit of it during WPL 2024.”



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