Sneh overcomes father's death to shine in England

Two months ago, India women's cricket team all-rounder Sneh Rana was inconsolable after losing her father Bhagwant Singh, 61, to a heart attack. His last wish was to see Sneh play for India again.

A knee injury and loss of form had kept the talented player out of the team for the past five years.

But when she was picked for the one-off Test against England in Bristol last week, she proved her capabilities on the international stage.

The 27-year-old from Dehradun in Uttarakhand became the first Indian woman cricketer and fourth in history to score a half-century and bag four wickets in an innings on Test debut. She had earlier represented India in only limited-overs matches.

On the fourth and final day, Sneh (80 not out) added an unbeaten 144 runs with Taniya Bhatia for the ninth wicket and helped India earn a hard-fought draw after following on in the first innings. It dashed England's hopes of pulling off their first Test win at home in 16 years.

"When I lost my father, it was a difficult and emotional moment for me because he wanted to see me play for India," said Sneh at the end of the match. "But unfortunately, he couldn't. Whatever I do now, I will dedicate everything to him."

Growing up in Sinola village, 20km from Dehradun, Sneh was drawn to outdoor sports and tried her hand at everything from badminton to cricket.

"She was a tomboy, always used to play with boys," her sister Ruchi told The Indian Express.

When she turned nine, Sneh played a cricket match with some boys near their house. Seeing her interest in the sport, her father, who was a private contractor, got his younger daughter enrolled at Little Master's Academy.

"Our father supported her in all her endeavours," said Ruchi.

Sneh made her India debut in limited-overs cricket in 2014, before a knee injury suffered two years later relegated her to the sidelines. But she took 18 wickets and scored 160 runs at a strike rate of over 120 for the Railways in the domestic 50-over game this year - which forced the selectors to pick her for the England tour.

Railways coach Nooshin Al Khadeer is not surprised that Sneh made a sensational Test debut. "She is blessed with the talent and temperament to shine on the big stage," he said. "The big-match temperament is something that has not come overnight for her. In the past, she was sent to bat at times when the team needed her to stick around and she performed."

Sneh now has further chances to show her prowess as the England tour, which includes three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches.

She is confident she will do well.

"A lot of people think those of us, who've played for India but been out of the national side for a while, will find it very difficult to play international cricket again," she said. "I feel that my journey may have inspired some of them. In my view, one should never give up."

Indo-Asian News Service

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