Meet Prathyusha Challuru: From playing cricket with boys in Bangalore to leading a team with Indian players in a T20 league, this 22-year old from Karnataka has come a long way. She has been a consistent performer at the domestic level and is known to have a good head over her shoulders.
Female Cricket got in touch with Challuru Prathyusha, who recently made her debut for India against South Africa for this interview.
1. How was the lockdown period for you? What new did you learn? Making Dalgona Coffee? Cake? Making TikTok Videos?
The lockdown period was definitely difficult for me as I had to spend time away from the ground. Thankfully, I have a net at home with a bowling machine. I spent most of my time there. In the mornings, a few of us (Karnataka team players) used to do fitness through zoom sessions. And evenings I used to do skills. I spent most of the days like this. Of course, I also saw a lot of web series online 😊!
2. Take us through your early days in cricket. When was the first you played this sport?
I started playing the sport at the age of seven. I used to attend summer camp at the Herons sports club in NR Colony, Bangalore. Right from the beginning, I enjoyed challenges, and playing with the boys gave me confidence.
3. Did you enjoy support from your family? Who else in your family plays cricket?
My parents have been a huge support for me and have only encouraged me from the beginning to take up this sport of my choice (which obviously turned out to be cricket, while I tried my hand at other sports like badminton, tennis, skating to name a few) and excel in it. My dad used to watch cricket matches on the TV and that’s how I developed an interest.
4. Did you always want to be a leg spinner? Who pushed you towards becoming a spinner?
I started as a medium pacer and also played U-16 and U-19 for KSCA in the initial stages as a pacer. Later when I tried bowling leg-spin around 2014, I realised I could create a bigger impact as a leg spinner so my coach at Falcon sports club suggested me to bowl leg-spin.
5. What does it take to be a good leg spinner?
I think the hardest part of being a leg spinner is consistency. If you can get better at that, you can pick wickets and be that wicket-taking bowler for your team. For this, you need to do a lot of spot bowling.
6. Who was your role model growing up? Who do you admire now and why?
When I started, my role model was MS Dhoni. I enjoyed his leadership, the way he backs his players and finishes games with his batting. After that, when Virat scored 183, I started following him. I enjoy it, even more, when the team is chasing a target. I really like how these two have managed to win so many games for the country! These two made me bolster the zeal in me to play & bring accolades for the country.
7. When did you break into the Karnataka stateside? Tell us about the day when you got to know about your selection in the state team.
I first played U-16 for my state team in the year 2010. I was really excited as that was the first time I was playing for a girls’ team.
8. Recently you were a part of the India team that played the ODI and T20I series against South Africa. Did you expect the India call? What was your reaction like? Did you jump out of joy or dance with your family?
Honestly, I did not expect it. As soon I woke up, I saw a message and got to know about the selection. I did not know how to react! I told my parents and they were very happy about it.
9. How was the experience in the Indian dressing room and what was the key learning?
It was really great to share the dressing room with some legends of the game like Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, and Harmanpreet Kaur. The key learning for me from the series was that consistency holds the key when you are playing at the highest level. There will be ups and downs. The more quickly you keep upgrading your game as per the team requirement, the more successful you will be.
10. In your debut match, you picked up the wicket of a well-set Anne Bosch. How did you feel taking your first international wicket?
I was surprised and couldn’t believe that I had just picked up my first international wicket. It was even better as there was a really good partnership built up by then and the team badly needed a breakthrough.
11. Talk us through your performance in the India Nippon Cup. What were the key learnings from this tournament that you could put to use when playing for India?
There were a lot of national players who played in this tournament. So playing alongside them, gave me a lot of confidence as the standard was really good and I needed to bring out the best in me to compete against them. It required some smart thinking to bowl to players like Jemimah,
Veda Krishnamurthy and Deepti Sharma and batting to bowlers like Anuja Patil and Rajeshwari Gayakwad.
12. You captained Kini RR Sports during the India Nippon Cup and led the team to the championship. How was the feeling?
It was really a good experience. It was the first team I was leading a team with so many Indian players in it. The championship was the icing on the cake. Thanks to the Falcon sports club, as many players got matches to play amidst the pandemic.
13. You had the likes of Indian players like Punam Raut, Radha Yadav, Arundhati Reddy, and Nuzhat Parween in your side. How was the experience of leading them?
Having them in the team made my job much easier. They are experienced players and helped a lot while leading the team. They would come up and give suggestions or ideas whenever the team was in trouble.
14. With the South Africa series and India Nippon Cup done and dusted, what are your future plans?
Nothing is certain at the moment, looking at the situation in the country right now. Looking forward to playing any match that will be scheduled.
15. Are you looking forward to playing in the upcoming Women’s T20 Challenge?
Definitely, I am looking forward to it. If given a chance, I will look to give my best. It will be a really good experience sharing the dressing room with many foreign players as well.
17. Do you agree with the idea of having at least 4 teams in the Women’s T20 Challenge this year? Why?
It will be good progress to the women’s cricket if there is a fourth team added in the tournament. The Indian team has been doing really well off late in the international cricket. It will only give confidence to the players who are going to be a part of it giving them the experience of playing alongside international cricketers.
18. What would be your one message to a young girl who is just starting to play cricket?
Hard work and dedication will take any player a long way.
This article is published in partnership with Female Cricket