WPL: Perseverance and belief in hardwork pays off for Gujarat Giants’ Tarannum Pathan

February 20, 2024
Despite putting in good performances in the previous domestic season, Tarannum Pathan couldn’t find any takers in the Women's Premier League

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) Despite putting in good performances in the previous domestic season, Tarannum Pathan couldn’t find any takers in the Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2023 player auction. By her own admission, she felt bad about it, but found solace in backing from her loved ones.

Cut to now, and ahead of the start of 2024 Women’s Premier League (WPL), Tarannum, the off-spin all-rounder, sports a delightful smile, thanks to being roped in by Gujarat Giants at the player auction, where her name came at the end.

“My family supported me a lot at that time and encouraged me by saying ‘you need to put in more hard work’. My friends also supported me a lot at that time and were optimistic in their mindset by saying to me ‘you can put in better performance in next season to get selected by the franchises (in the next season)’,” said Tarannum in a virtual interaction organised by Gujarat Giants.

The Giants, who finished at bottom of points table in WPL 2023, are seeking a turnaround in fortunes at WPL 2024. Though Tarannum is not guaranteed a place in the starting eleven, considering Giants have spin-bowling all-rounders in vice-captain Sneh Rana, Harleen Deol, Dayalan Hemalatha, a platform like the WPL is giving Tarannum the impetus to have a crack at playing for India.

“I have thought about that (national team selection) as in last edition of the WPL, you saw the performers from the competition and from the domestic level being rewarded with selections in the Indian team. It’s a very big opportunity and depends on how one grabs it.

“The thing right now is, whenever you get the chance, you got to perform well. Honestly speaking, the staff here has kept us very freely, instead of saying ‘you got to perform here’ and tell us to ‘give our best and not think much’. If a chance comes, will try to give 110% and it’s in the mind that if I perform at my best here, then Indian team selection is possible.”

Hailing from Baroda, Tarannum grew up playing cricket with her father and paternal uncle at home. “In the colony, where I lived, there used to be only one TV and that was at my house. Like, when an India-Pakistan game used to happen, everyone in the colony would be at my home to watch the match.”

“One day, a friend of my paternal uncle suggested that if you get her to a school, she can make a future in cricket as there is women’s cricket. Plus, at that time, we heard a lot about Jhulan (Goswami) di and Mithali (Raj) di doing well for India in women’s cricket,” she recalls.

At 13, Tarannum was taking baby steps into the world of professional women’s cricket and supporting her at every step was her father Nasir Khan Pathan, who passed away a couple of years ago. “There used to be nothing left in the house, to be honest, not even for eating food. But our papa never made us feel like anything is lacking and fear over what would happen next.

“He would drop and pick me from the practice on cycle for three-four years. Then he would drop and pick me from the club to home in an auto rickshaw, despite not knowing from where the petrol would come for it to run. He remained with me like my best friend, and not just as a father. Whatever I would do at the cricket, I shared with my father. Today, what Tarannum Pathan is right now and what I am known for, it’s all because of my father.”

Going back to her childhood memories, Tarannum remembered copying Harbhajan Singh’s bowling action and would follow Nooshin Al Khadeer, who picked more than 100 wickets for India and is now the bowling coach at the Giants. As of now, she looks up to Ravichandran Ashwin for his variations, but mostly analyses her bowling videos for getting better in bowling department.

“In childhood, I used to bowl off-spin by copying Harbhajan Singh’s action and I used to follow him a lot as he was the best off-spinner around 2006/07, alongside Muttiah Muralitharan. Then, women’s team matches were on too and I used to see Nooshin Al Khadeer’s action too.

“But I mostly followed Harbhajan Singh’s bowling action. In terms of the favourite mode of dismissal, I can’t pinpoint one as a favourite as there have been so many modes of taking wickets.”

Tarranum had made it to an Indian team camp in 2010 and was even picked for the ‘A’ team. In her cricketing journey, she also found help from the Pathan brothers – Irfan and Yusuf, in terms of mental preparation and adding power-hitting skills to her arsenal.

“There’s been huge support from both Irfan and Yusuf Pathan. I used to have positive conversations with them. In terms of power-hitting, Yusuf bhai is the biggest name there and he’s helped me with power-hitting whenever I met him.

“With Irfan bhai, the talk was majorly around getting yourself mentally prepared for playing cricket at the highest level. I have put in the hardwork for power-hitting and seeing what is the best way to hit sixes.”

Despite being a mainstay in the Baroda team and even captaining them, Tarannum felt she wasn’t getting her due and made a switch to Goa ahead of the 2023/24 season. Tarannum picked five wickets in six matches for Goa in the senior women’s T20 trophy at an economy rate of just 4.90, while amassing 99 runs with the bat at a strike-rate of 105.31.

In the senior women’s one-day trophy, she took eight wickets in six matches at an economy rate of 3.59, while making 135 runs with the bat and her highest score being 52 not out. She also took two wickets in three appearances for South Zone in the senior women’s inter zonal T20 trophy, as well as picked four wickets in three appearances in the senior women’s inter zonal one-day trophy.

People in domestic circuit will tell that opportunities to have a crack at the senior team become thin when a player is in late 20s or 30s. But WPL has meant that players like Tarannum, who toil tirelessly in the domestic circuit, get a platform to showcase their talent in front of a larger audience.

Choosing to ignore talk around the age barrier, Tarannum stated her focus was always on performing and being at her fittest best to get into WPL 2024. “There used to be a talk previously about not picking players once they get to a certain age. So, in this case, I try to keep myself as fit as possible.”

“But it never crossed my mind that ‘I am of this age and I should leave cricket as I am not getting selected’. I had the belief that the hardwork put in by me and the aim I have in mind, I will get that one day. I never had the negative thoughts like, ‘Those are younger than me and I am getting older’, as Mithali di and Jhulan di retired just a couple of years ago.”

“Somewhere, I do look up to them as they were playing and were legendary even at 30, then I can also play at that age. I never had thoughts of age barrier and thought was always to maintain the fitness. Yes, I did feel low at times when the selection didn’t happen last time, but I always had the belief that the hardwork put in will be rewarded somehow. Now, I am very happy that the hardwork put in last one year has resulted in WPL selection this time.”

Tarannum’s decade-plus journey in domestic cricket, where she is the current leading wicket-taker from women’s bowlers in Gujarat, has been a tale full of perseverance and the belief in her hardwork paying off. She also feels participating in women’s T20 leagues in Goa and Chhattisgarh last year has been beneficial for her in terms of knowing herself as a player.

“Women’s cricket has changed a lot in India since reaching the 2017 ODI World Cup final. I was talking with my friends that women’s cricket was growing slowly, but I now see that it is developing rapidly on a day-to-day basis, like there is a women’s cricket match happening at either one place or the other. Plus, those games being shown live is also helping the growth of women’s cricket.

“I also played in the T20 leagues of Goa and Chhattisgarh, which helps a lot as you get to meet new people and that comes of advantage in the WPL as you know that a particular player did well in a certain invitational tournament. I feel that playing in those tournaments helped me a lot in terms of my game.”



Latest Articles

Related Posts