Shebani Bhaskar, a 16 year-old high school student from India, is in New York to play for the Tri-State Lynx women’s team in a limited overs competition this weekend. Shebani is hoping to win US senior team selection for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup qualifiers in Bangladesh later this year.
The highly talented all-rounder said in an interview with USACA.org that she was available to play for the US senior team, but added “this depends on my performances.”
Shebani, who was born in Chicago and now lives Chennai in south India, said: “I think I am ready to play international cricket. You know, you watch the ball and play the ball.”
Linden Fraser, who is a coach in the tri-state area has been a long time admirer of Shebani and has worked hard behind the scenes to get her in the US senior team.In an interview with USACA.org, Fraser described Shebani as a “very good player, who was good enough to play for the US team.”
He said she had the ability to play in one of the top five batting spots for the national team, which is a huge compliment for such a young player, who already has a very promising career.
Fraser said that he would encourage the national selectors to seriously consider naming Shebani in the national senior team squad when it is chosen for the World Cup qualifying tournament in Bangladesh.He believes the 16-year-old is one of the brightest hopes for the future of US women’s cricket. Fraser has met Shebani and has also watched her play on video.
The 16-year old represented the victorious North East Region in the 2009 USACA women’s tournament in Florida, but narrowly missed being selected to the USA national women’s team that defeated Canada 3-0 last year, in the ICC-Americas qualifier tournament, which placed the USA women on the road to Bangladesh this fall.
Fraser said that last year Shebani scored 103, including 15 fours, of her team’s 181 total in a game in Tamil Nadu in India where she plays in several competitions. “Without a doubt she is ready to play for the US team,” said Fraser. “She is very talented and very mature for her age. She has the temperament to play at the level that will be played in Bangladesh.”
Fraser said he had already spoken to national selector Sew Shivnarine about Shebani and said that he would watch her play in the tri-state competition in Brooklyn, New York.
Shebani, who returned to live in India with her parents seven years ago, said that she would be based in Chicago during her month stay in the US and would be prepared to visit New York to play in matches if there were none in the Chicago area.
In India she is a top-order bat and prefers to come in at number three with the Tamil Nadu state team. She also bowls medium pacers.
Shebani said she had been given permission to play in the US by the Tamil Nadu cricket administrators. “I am looking forward to this and I am very excited,” she said.
In Tamil Nadu, Shebani plays in 25 official games in the Under-16, Under-19 and senior competitions. She plays in another 10 to 15 unofficial matches each season.
Asked about the differences between cricket in the US and India, she said: “There are a lot more games in India with various tournaments for all age groups, including two-day games, 20/20 and 50-over matches.
“There are interstate and zone games and there are a lot more girls and women playing there. There are more opportunities and the competition is higher.”