WPL 2024: I really hope that we get a lot of positive results this time, says Gujarat Giants’ Sneh Rana

February 23, 2024
India’s off-spin all-rounder Sneh Rana looks serious in her pursuit of taking scalps and getting runs for her team.

New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) On the field, India’s off-spin all-rounder Sneh Rana looks serious in her pursuit of taking scalps and getting runs for her team. But off the field, she becomes a humorous person, with a knack of cracking witty jokes.

In WPL 2023, Sneh was tasked with leading the Gujarat Giants, the franchise owned by Adani Sportsline, when Beth Mooney limped off the field with a calf strain after facing just three balls in the tournament opener against future winners Mumbai Indians.

After that, the Giants’ didn’t have a memorable season, finishing at the bottom of the points table, even as Sneh was trying her best to keep the team afloat, despite nursing a finger injury. But now, the Giants, with many changes and injury replacements, are gearing up to make a fresh start.

In an exclusive conversation with IANS, facilitated by the franchise, Sneh talks about her role in the Giants’ set-up as the vice-captain, preparation for WPL 2024, the importance of being mentally strong and the changes she sees towards women’s cricket in India after WPL 2023.

Q. WPL 2024 will be taking place in Bengaluru and New Delhi. How important you think it is for the tournament’s growth to play at new venues?

A. When you are playing matches at newer venues, it becomes a very important thing as fans who live in different states and don’t get a chance to watch the games in the stadium due to distance, they get to see the matches.

This time, it’s a good thing that WPL games are in Bengaluru, which is a cricketing hub and makes for a very positive point. After that, it will be played in Delhi, a place which has a lot of craze for cricket. So, all of this will make for a very good tournament.

Q. As the vice-captain of the Gujarat Giants, after captaining them last season in Beth Mooney’s absence, how do you see your role in the leadership group in WPL 2024?

A. The role remains the same for all the players; it’s just that you do have a responsibility around how to manage the team and make them play as a unit. We did set it up well last time and with Beth joining in now (after missing out last year), I think it’s going to be a good one.

The leadership feeling has to be inside every player and that it should be coming from inside about the urge to do good for the team and do it in a certain way. I believe a quality like this should be inside everyone and as the team’s vice-captain, because this is the WPL, I know the Indian players personally and played a lot of games with them, so I can help Beth in that.

Q. Recently, you led Railways to winning Senior Women’s One-Day title and captained Central Zone to winning the 50-over Inter Zonal championship. What is there in leadership role which brings the best out of you as a captain?

A. It will be a tough one to explain this thing. But when the responsibility of leading the team comes on me, then you become more focused about it and you try to treat everyone in the team equally. For bringing the best out of them, you got to gel well with the entire team. I believe the type of bonding I have with the players in any team has been a key reason behind me getting success as a leader in cricket.

Q. In leadership roles, instinct and strategy play key roles in executing the plans well. In your view, how does one mix these two qualities well to get desired result on the field?

A. Its’ important that you see the strengths of the opposition, follow them a bit and their patterns, because that will help when you face them in a game. T20 is a quick game and you don’t get the time to make a comeback. So, if you are already prepared and have two-three plans in mind, then it makes life easy for you on the ground.

Q. You have previously won domestic titles as captain and formed a great captain-coach partnership with Nooshin Al Khadeer, who’s now the bowling coach at Gujarat Giants. How impactful has been her influence in your growth as a captain & leader?

A. I possess of a very great bonding with her as I have been under her for so many years, whether it’s at the Railways team or the Gujarat Giants side. Actually, she has really helped me a lot in terms of my growth as a player as she was an off-spinner herself in her playing time and I myself bowl off-spin.

So, there have been some tips from her which have really helped me a lot (in growing at the cricket). Moreover, she played a very important role in my cricketing comeback (after suffering a knee injury in 2016).

Q. You just mentioned about the comeback post injury. Could you talk about the learning that phase gave you in terms of being mentally strong?

A. In cricket, skills is another part as first, you got to be mentally strong in whatever you do on the field. The phase I had after my injury played a big part in me becoming mentally stronger and from there, I began to see a lot of positive things, all of which has been continuing so far.

The things which aren’t in my control, I don’t think much about them and because of that, my success rate in cricket has been going up. Plus, I focus a lot on my preparation, not on the results.

Q. You have been in both T20 franchise league and national side set-ups. Do you feel there’s any difference between these two systems?

A. The difference is that when are playing for your national team, you know everything about the players – like their positive and negative things when on ground. But when you are playing in a league like the WPL, then different players join you, about whom you aren’t much aware about.

To mix and interact with them and create that bonding, it does become challenging. But based on the practice sessions we have had, the girls have now gelled up well. Apart from that, I don’t see any much difference as such.

Q. Gujarat Giants’ didn’t have a great time in WPL 2023, by finishing at the bottom of the table. How has been the preparation been to have a great outing in this new WPL season?

A. Performances do go up-and-down, but as of now, the environment we have in the team has been very positive and the preparations in the camp we are having are going really well. I really hope that we get a lot of positive results this time.

Results are not in our hands, but the performances we put in and whatever we do on the field, that is in our hands. All the girls in the team, including the juniors and upcoming players, have a very great attitude on the field. Hopefully, the results do come good.

Q. Have you personally noticed any difference in the attitude towards women’s cricket in the country, after WPL 2023 happened?

A. Since the time WPL has come, there have been a lot of changes. The girls, who weren’t able to take up cricket as a profession previously for any reason, or any family who weren’t sending their daughters for whatsoever reasons, are now willing to be a part of this sport.

I mean, I have seen drastic change after WPL happened. I have been many little girls take up this sport and even three-year olds are going for practice, and seeing all of this makes me feel so happy. The same is happening in remote areas, like I went to hilly areas some time ago and in a space over there, small kids were playing cricket, which made me feel so good.

I am so grateful towards the Women’s Premier League (WPL), and to the BCCI for making women’s cricket go higher that many places in the country are now willing to take up the sport. It is a very good sign for the growth of women’s cricket in the country and in coming times, we will see more women in the sport.

Q. Outside of the field, you are known to be jovial, as seen from your comic reels on Instagram, mostly with Meghna Singh. How you manage to strike a balance between your on-field and off-field persona?

A. Thing is, whatever happened on the field, leave it there as there’s no point in carrying it outside. Sometimes it is very important to take an off day for your mind, so that you can be fresh for the next game. So the things of the ground and whatever is related to it, I leave it there. Outside of it, I am very different (laughs).



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