USA’s brightest hope, Shebani Bhaskar, made her international debut in Bangladesh at the Women’s World Cup Qualifier with poise and style. Unarguably USA’s biggest asset on tour, Bhaskar led the team to victory against Zimbabwe with a scintillating 72 runs and a match-winning direct-hit to the stumps from extra cover to the striker’s end.
Her outstanding performance earned her the ICC WWCQ Player of the Match award, the lone piece of hardware for team USA.
The 5’4″, 17 year old who plays for the New York-based Tri-State Lynx team, sat with USAWomensCricket.com to reflect on the WWCQ and her performance.
How do you feel about your performance in the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier?
I was happy that I was able to contribute in the match against Zimbabwe. I was doubly delighted that it was in a winning cause and was able to help the US win that match. I had a couple other good starts, where I felt good and was timing the ball well but was disappointed at not converting those starts into solid knocks.
Did you perform as you expected to? Or, what were your expectations of yourself going into this tournament?
I would’ve liked to have contributed much more for the team. My goal for the tournament was at least one century and an overall average of over 40. But it was a great experience.
Photo (above): Shebani Bhaskar in action against Bangladesh (Courtesy ICC/Mainoor Islam Manik)
What were your expectations of team USA, going into this tournament?
I thought if we work together, capitalizing on each other’s strengths, we could cause some upsets.
Were the pitch conditions similar to those of India?
The pitches we played on were different from each other. One was turning a lot, one was just staying low, another had unpredictable bounce. Although some of the pitch conditions were similar to India, I learned my cricket on fast pitches and on concrete, where the ball comes on to the bat nicely with good pace and bounce. So, I found stroke play more difficult in Bangladesh, especially in Savar.
In the game against Zimbabwe, you knocked an amazing 72, affected the match-winning run-out, and won the ICC player of the match award. What does that mean to you?
I made my international debut in this tournament, and to win the Player of the Match award was amazing. That too, in Sher-e-Bangla stadium with a few thousand spectators cheering. I will never forget that. I’m fortunate to have been able to experience that.
Photo (Right): Shebani Bhaskar accepting the ICC Player of the Match award for her 72 runs and the match-winning run-out (Courtesy Erica Rendler).
What were your thoughts when you fielded that ball knowing that only 1 run was needed to tie the match with more than an over to go?
The ball prior to the run out came straight to me. They didn’t run for it, but still I know I had to field it cleanly. I walked in a bit more the next ball. She hit it straight to me again, but this time a little harder. They ran for it. All that was running through my head was,
“Clean pick… Direct hit…” I knew that if they took that single, they’d get a second run to win the match after that ball. So, all I thought about was hitting the stumps. I knocked down the stumps and was watching the umpire keenly. As soon as he started raising his finger, there was a sense of relief, and of course, happiness.
How long have you been playing cricket?
I have been playing cricket for about 6 years now. The interesting thing is that I first started learning cricket when I lived in Bangladesh and my international debut was also in Bangladesh.
USAWomensCricket.com wishes Shebani further success in her cricket career and personal life.