New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS): When the Women's Premier League (WPL) auction was being conducted in Mumbai on Saturday, Vrinda Dinesh was practising with the Karnataka U23 team ahead of the Women’s U23 T20 Trophy campaign starting in Raipur.
When her name came up on the auction block, there was a buzz around the Karnataka camp and that increased when one of her team-mates whispered to a support staff member that Vrinda was picked by UP Warriorz for a huge INR 1.3 crore, which she didn’t believe initially.
"I am in Raipur at the moment with the (Karnataka U-23) team. When the auctions were going on last evening, I was bowling in the nets and I heard my teammate whispering to my colleague, 'She got picked for 1.3 (crore)'. It was something unbelievable and I never expected," said Vrinda in a virtual interaction organised by the franchise on Sunday.
Vrinda eventually became the second-highest uncapped Indian player in terms of amount at the WPL auction. In that moment of joy, she called up her mother, who was following the auction with the rest of the family at her home in Bengaluru.
"The batters and keepers and coaches left the nets and came to hug me and it was very nice, very genuine. The first person I called was my mom and I think she was in tears. I didn't go for the video call because I knew I could see those tears and there was a very faint voice. I knew they were really happy for me and overwhelmed and I want to just make them proud," she added.
Vrinda had been with the Karnataka team since the 2018-19 season, but it was her knock of 36 off 29 balls in the final of the ACC Emerging Women’s Asia Cup in Hong Kong for the India ‘A’ team that got her into the reckoning.
From there she attended trials of all five WPL sides, and interestingly, she enjoyed the one with UP the most.
"Yes, I did attend all five trials. I enjoyed UP the most. We had a lot of match simulations and open nets. We also played a match where prior to the match or any simulation, they came and spoke to me."
"They asked me to be very free and just play the game that I have always been playing. Also on the last day, where they had a skill session for the batters, the UP Warriors players had to stay back for that session. They also asked me to attend the session and they also taught me a lot of skills that I could develop. That's something I used during the season this year."
Vrinda was recently with the India ‘A’ team in their three T20s against England ‘A’ and talking of her experiences in Hong Kong and Mumbai, she said, “Regarding my India A experience, I think there’s a bridge between international and domestic series. To be able to experience that and know where I stand and what I can do better, it’s a different enjoyment level there.”
Vrinda conceded that her secret desire was to play for Royal Challengers Bangalore, as she hails from Garden City. But she is happy to have been picked up by the Warriorz, led by Alyssa Healy, who also have power-packed overseas players like Sophie Ecclestone, Tahlia McGrath and Danni Wyatt.
At the Warriorz, Vrinda will reunite with her India ‘A’ teammates Shweta Sehrawat, S. Yashasri and Parshavi Chopra. Her wish is to open the batting for the team with Alyssa.
"Playing for UP Warriorz is something that I thought about last year itself. I really liked the way they took the team and the fun they had on and off the field."
"Alyssa Healy is someone I have always looked up to. I like the way she bats and that's something I have tried to do here. To be able to open the batting with Alyssa Healy is a dream come true. She is really destructive and it’s something I really want to be. Playing under her captaincy is going to give me a lot of experience. It will help me get better and it's something I am looking forward to."
Vrinda’s initiation into cricket came as a 13-year-old, after playing lots of gully cricket with the boys when her father got her admitted into a summer camp.
She then met her current coach Kiran Uppoor at the NICE Academy in Bengaluru during the season when she got into the Karnataka team in December 2018, but was unable to retain her place in subsequent seasons.
In this year’s Senior Women’s T20 Trophy, Vrinda smashed 211 runs at a strike rate of 154 in seven innings. She credits working under Uppoor for her evolution from a ‘Test batter’ to now being on the cusp of making her debut in the WPL and being able to shine in the shortest format.
“I have been training with him for the last five years. When I first met him, I was more of a Test player. But when I discussed with him that one day I want to play like a Virat Kohli or a Meg Lanning and want to develop such a game, he’s always supported that dream of mine.”
“He’s worked with me in all sorts of fields in terms of what to eat, when and how to train, and trying to get small things right. He’s someone who’s motivated me a lot in terms of getting up in the morning and looking forward to the sessions, as sometimes his sessions are really difficult.”
“But he puts me on a lot of challenges and opportunities equally. The NICE Cricket Academy provides me with a lot of facilities and the coaches never shy away from throwing a hundred balls at me. The groundsmen always keep wickets ready for me. All these things are looked after by Kiran sir and all these things have eventually helped me get to where I am,” Vrinda concluded.