#Inspiration

How Archana Devi, Who Once Couldn’t Afford A Bat Earned Her Spot At U19 World Cup

Archana Devi
On December 11, 2022, we witnessed a never-seen-before moment in the history of women’s cricket matches in India as the signboard on Wankhede Stadium’s gate read, “Stadium full, tickets over” as India played Australia in a T20 series. The rise in the popularity of Indian women’s cricket in the past few years tells overwhelming stories of young girls and women from small corners of the country, who carved their path and earned a spot in the national team however tough the odds were. One such story is that of Archana Devi, a young cricketer whose journey to finding her ground started when she participated in a regular race at school in her village.

From not being able to afford a cricketing kit, leave alone training, to earning a spot in India A-Team and now representing India at U19 T20 World Cup, Archana Devi’s story is one full of inspiration.

18-year-old Archana Devi was a little girl when she lost her father in Uttar Pradesh’s Ratai Purva village. However, her farmer mother made sure that Archana got basic education and enrolled her in a local school. During one of the school races in which Archana participated, her teacher, Poonam Gupta, noticed the speed and strength she carried at such a young age. Gupta recognised the kind of talent Archana carried and empowered her to pursue a career in sport. It was Gupta who purchased the little girl her first bat, and then there was no looking back.


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Archana Devi’s journey towards the Indian Team

Archana Devi was around 14 when she left her village and moved to Kanpur to pursue her sporting career. Her mentor Poonam Gupta was instrumental in bringing her to Kanpur and enrolling her in the cricket academy and school so she could complete her higher education. Archana pursued both her schooling and cricket coaching, and she made her debut for the Uttar Pradesh Team in 2018 as a young cricketer. Her coach Kapil Dev Pandey guided her way into being selected for tournaments like the Challengers Trophy and further getting her for India A team.

Archana wore the Indian Jersey for the first time in 2022 when she played the India A team, and her selection for the T20 World Cup has added another feather to her cap.

“Archana Devi’s rise in cricket is a significant example of how young girls can make it big across sports if given the right kind of support from the very beginning.”

Coming from a small village in Unnao, Archana’s journey also reflects how her one-step-at-a-time tactic helped her understand not just her own skills better but also the game that is religiously followed in the country.

Her entry into the international circuit comes at a time when Indian Women’s Cricket is earning well-deserved recognition, and with the inaugural Women Indian Premiere League all set to take place this year, Archana’s strive to make it big can prove to be huge for furthering her career.

In an interview with an independent reporter for Female Cricket, Archana recalled her mother’s undeterred support towards her. “My mother did not back out even once, especially when the going was tough. My journey of coming from a small Indian village to now representing India is also a testament to the immense effort and sacrifice it has taken her to get me here.”

The 2023 ICC under-19 T20 World Cup will take place from January 14 – January 29 in South Africa.

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