Profession: Women Cricketer (Wicketkeeper)
Age: 21 Years
Hometown: Baroda (now Vadodara), Gujarat
Some Lesser Known Facts About Yastika Bhatia
- Yastika Bhatia is a left-handed cricketer who plays for the Indian Women’s national team. She is known for her calm approach and can turn gears when required. She gained the limelight after the ODI match on 26 September 2021 at Ray Mitchell Oval, Mackay when she scored 64 runs and helped her side to break Australia’s 26-match winning streak which included victories over the likes of New Zealand, South Africa, and the champion England. Her side also registered the highest-ever run chase by an Indian women’s team in that match.
- After that inning, Rajkuvardevi Gaekwad, the chairman of the women’s selection committee at the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) and a person who had watched Yastika since childhood revealed,
“She’s quite a jovial character when she’s not playing. No doubt the win today would spark something in her, but I’m sure there might be a few celebratory guitar sessions in the team hotel tonight. She did well and scored runs in the camp. She had been doing well for Baroda in recent seasons and was very much in the national reckoning. I have been backing her since she started doing well for Baroda in U-19 tournaments.”
- She started playing cricket at the age of eight when her father had put her in the cricket academy at their school along with her elder sister. She got really happy by watching women’s cricket grow, and wanted to reach that level. Her parents are always supportive and always motivate her to go a long way in this sport. The local residents would often criticize her father for putting his daughter into this sport, but he never listened. Once during a lockdown when their practice got adjourned, her father decided to build a cricket net in their apartment premises near the parking lot. After getting permission, her practice continued. Although, it was with the tennis ball concerning the safety of the locals. In an interview, her father told,
“The society we live in was very helpful. They moved a few vehicles around in the parking area to help us set up a makeshift batting net. We couldn’t use the hard leather ball because it could get noisy and a lot of residents are elderly, so we practiced with tennis balls. The bounce was sudden and unpredictable, but that’s what Australian pitches can be like. And you need to have quick wrists to work in those conditions. Training with Chaugule sir really sharpened her batting reflexes, and then Kiran More’s help polished it further.”
- She then played in the Baroda U-19 team along with her sister. Her sister, however, decided to pursue medicines further but Yastika was sure to adopt cricket as her career. She soon got selected in the U-19 National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru along with 24 other girls. This academy is headed by the legendary former Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid. The main aim of this academy is to nurture the talents and to prepare them for their future games under the watchful eyes of professionalists.
- In 2016, she got selected in the Baroda team for the West zone U-19 squad where she played a crucial role in taking her side to a victory by scoring 230 runs singlehandedly with an average of 115. The same year in the same championship, she went on to score her maiden one-day century (131 runs against Maharashtra). She then scored crucial 60 runs against the favorites Mumbai. After the tournament, she said,
“My parents were present at the ground when I scored my hundred and so, I became really emotional at that moment. After all, right since the day I started playing cricket, I had their complete support. In fact, some other parents (of the team members) had also traveled to Aurangabad to cheer for us. I am really happy to see such support for women’s cricket and hopefully, we can realize our dream of making Baroda the national champions this time. Playing cricket always makes me happy and when you are doing something that gives you joy, you won’t feel any pressure. Hopefully, I will continue to do well and the biggest dream, of course, is to play for Team India.”
- Soon in 2019, she got selected in the India-A women’s team for the tour of Australia starting from the 12th of December. Earlier she played in the India-A women’s team against Bangladesh in One-dayers. Before the series, she told that
“I haven’t played outside Asia, so this tournament will be challenging for me. The wickets will be bouncy and I have got less time to prepare. But it’s an exciting opportunity and I will give my best.”
- Since she started playing cricket, she has got great sportsmanship and excellent wicketkeeping skills as a result she got selected as the captain of the West Zone Women’s Cricket Team for the Inter-Zone 50-over and Inter-Zone Three Day Competitions. Post becoming a captain, she scored a century in a T20 game against the Manipur in the national U-23 Women’s tournament after recovering from mental trauma.
- The trauma so happened when in 2020, the members of the Baroda senior women’s team including her were sexually harassed by their head coach Atul Bedade in March. He was later suspended by the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA). As a result, Yastika went into mental trauma and missed two state matches for her Baroda team. Miss Gaekwad said about Yastika’s mental condition that
“It was tough for Yasti. She consulted doctors and her sister who is studying medicine also helped her recover from the trauma. Her parents supported her completely to come out of that zone. Moving on from the episode, she worked on her training. Since she started playing, she has been very hard working. After she recovered, she just focused on playing for India.”
- Finally, on 18 September 2021, she got the chance to represent her country in the Indian women’s practice game against Australia in Brisbane. Australia after batting first posed 278 runs on the board. On the other hand, India lost both their openers on 30 runs. Yastika then held a 40 runs partnership with Shafali Verma and got dismissed on 41 runs of 42 balls when the score was 130 runs. India lost the match by 36 runs.
- Then came the first ODI match of her career against the same opposition. This time she came at number three after Shafali Verma got dismissed on the score of 31. After her steady partnership of 77 runs with captain Mithali Raj, she got dismissed (caught) by Darcie Brown on the score of 35 runs after facing 51 balls which includes two fours. Australia chased the target of 226 runs losing just one wicket. In the next game, she couldn’t do well and got dismissed on 3 runs.
- It was a tough challenge for India to break their winning momentum. In the third ODI, Australia after winning the toss scored 264 while batting first. India on the other hand had a great start with all three top three batters scoring the majority of runs they chased. Yastika contributing with 64 of 69 balls and took the side to a win by two wickets. She got dismissed after edging a shorter delivery. The ball went to the hands of a deep backward square leg fielder. Though, It was Jhulan Goswami who was honored with the player of the match, but Yastika was India’s top scorer.
- A few days later, she got the chance to make her test debut against the same side. She could only score 19 and 3 runs in that match. The game ended in a draw. Before that, she featured in five T20 games for India’s A and B teams and scored 91 runs with an average of 22.75. For India A games, she replaced the injured Harleen Deol. On 28 February 2021, a 22-member Indian women’s team was announced that will take on South Africa in five ODIs and three T20 internationals to be held in Lucknow started from 7 March. Although, she was selected only for the T20I series for the injured Harmanpreet Kaur.
- Two months before the Australian tour, former Indian wicketkeeper Kiran More helped her develop the power-hitting ability. He explained
“She’s a very complete player, the approach and technique are very good,” explains More, who worked with Yastika for two months ahead of the Australia tour. “There’s a long way to go and she’s just played three games. It’s a good start though.”
He further added,
“We did some work on her technique and some drills on power-hitting. Indian girls need power, compared to the foreign girls who are generally stronger. But she’s a very good student and she had the talent. The areas she wanted to work on we did, like hook shots, square cut, hitting long as well. I told her what she needs to do on the international stage.”
- Her coach Santosh credits Kiran More for all the shots she played during the third one-dayer against Australia in October 2021. At the same time, he also remembers the time he spent with her during the lockdown.
- After the team was announced, she was in Rajkot with the Baroda women’s team to play a few practice matches. In the morning itself, she got the news of her selection and told her dad soon after. After listening to this, he was in tears. He accompanied her to Rajkot where the team’s practice would take place. Yastika described that moment as a surreal feeling! She further added,
“The Indian dressing room has some absolute legends of the game and I can’t wait to meet the likes of Mithali Raj, Jhulan di, and Harmanpreet Kaur. Merely watching how they prepare before a game will be huge learning in itself. The Indian women’s team hasn’t played any matches for almost a year now and so, it will be challenging to take on a good team like South Africa. However, I am confident about doing well if I get a chance to play.”
- She was a bright student during her 12th standard where she had chosen science as her subject. After her final exams, she told her parents that
“I am so relieved that I won’t have to study Physics anymore!”
Due to her busy cricket schedule, she would rarely get time to study. Just fifteen days before the final exams, she studied and secured 88.90 percent. After the result, her parents were overjoyed. At that time, she was in a gym. When she returned, she asked her father about the result. Her father told her to guess. To which Yastika guessed in between 70 to 80 percent. But it was a very proud moment for her when she get to knew that the result is more than her estimated expectation. Even her mother couldn’t stop herself from saying that
“Now, even I am relieved that I won’t have to study Physics with her.”
To which smiling Yastika shared,
“I got just about a month before the exams to study properly. I can’t focus on my studies if my mom is not by my side.”
Her sister shares,
“She got just one month when she could focus only on studies. That shows that if she sets her sights on something, she makes sure that she achieves it.”
- In an interview, her father revealed,
“She’s always been fond of learning. Either it’s something in cricket, or something else. She learned the guitar recently because of the second lockdown. During the first lockdown last year, she signed up for online classes and learned French.”
She would complete half the syllabus during the time when she was not practicing. She said that she studied a little every day. Also, her school staffs were very supportive. Her sister would help her with difficult subjects.
- One day, her father gave the whole family a surprise by booking a home without giving any hint. At that time, he would often say that his daughter will one day play for India and Yastika would definitely be wanted that to happen.
- She does yoga every day for ten minutes after waking up at around 5 AM, then visualizes the shots she would play the next day. After reaching home, at 6 PM she goes to the gym named Physio2fitness located in Vadodara. Just before the match, she prefers listening to her favorite music in order to stay relaxed and composed.