Pace is my strength: Niranjana
Since her return to the national squad in June 2012, N Niranjana has been a regular member of the Indian women’s cricket team. The pacer, who first represented the country in 2008, was back in the side for the tour of England and has performed well for the team since her comeback. Her efforts over the past few months have been appreciated by captain Mithali Raj as well. During her time away, the bowler trained hard and worked on sharpening her skills.
Niranjana, who was drawn to cricket by watching and playing gully cricket, was inspired by former India pacer Javagal Srinath during her early days. While speaking to bcci.tv ahead of the first match of the 2013 ICC Women’s World Cup, Niranjana talked about her journey as a pace bowler and thanked her parents and coaches for encouraging her to pursue her dreams.
Excerpts from her interview:
On the areas she has worked on before making a comeback
I have made a comeback, but it has taken three long years. I have been working hard on my fitness and I have to work more on my accuracy. People knew that I had the ability; but then when I had it in me and I was not able to perform, I felt bad. So, I just kept motivating myself that I can do it, and over the last two years it has been more of cricket and hard work for me, and also a lot of sacrifices. There has been a lot of help from my parents also. But mainly, if you ask me cricketwise, it has been more accuracy and speed that I have been working on; not much on the swing though. That helped me to get decent amount of pace and helped me perform better.
On her focus while bowling
My strength has always been my pace. I have always worked on that and I have not sacrificed my pace for anything else. With whatever pace I have I manage to swing the ball to whatever extent that I can.
On her stock delivery
My stock ball is the ball going out. I have a natural out-swinger. When it is an old ball, sometimes it reverses for me. But it depends on the shine of the ball, whether we shine the ball well or not. In these conditions, reverse swing will be a little difficult, but I will try and get reverse swing. It’s a day-night game and when you bowl second, there will be moisture on the wicket and conditions will be helpful for the bowlers. It also depends on the amount of shine on the ball.
On whether she prefers bowling with the new ball
For any fast bowler it will be the new ball, to swing the ball both ways. It has always been a pleasure to be a fast bowler. Any fast bowler will love to have the new ball in her hand.
On the variations she uses
Yorkers. As a fast bowler you have to have that amount of control to get the yorkers right. When you bowl to the tailenders, yorkers are a must. People have started to pick the slower ones these days and they tend to hit them over the mid-wicket area. More than slower ones I would pick yorkers because I feel they deceive the batsmen more.
On the fitness aspect
The career of the fast bowler is short, whether it is men’s cricket or women’s cricket. If you want to survive for a longer time, you have to work a lot on building your strength. Of late, I have understood the seriousness of building power and strength. In the last one-and-half years I have been working on it, especially the lower body and shoulders. And when you field, there is double the amount of power required while throwing. So, more gym sessions and strengthening exercises are very important as a fast bowler.
On her cricketing journey
I was very naughty as a kid and my grandmother used to tie me to the window in the house, and I used to watch the guys play outside. Then I started playing cricket with the guys. In fact my grandmother and the guys on the street are one of the reasons for me being here. They always said that you can play a good amount of cricket.
I started playing at the age of five. I started playing gully cricket, I used to love that and was crazy about it, and even now I am crazy about gully cricket. That is how it started. I took up cricket professionally at the age of 13, and since then there has been no looking back.
Fast bowling was very natural for me. I have always been inspired by fast bowling. Javagal Srinath was the first fast bowler that I started watching; since that time I have been in love with fast bowling.
My favourite fast bowler at the moment is Dale Steyn and I love S Sreesanth’s bowling too.
On her coach
Mr. Satish, I would like to thank him for recognising my potential and to have brought me up. He is not coaching me at the moment, but I am in touch with him and his good wishes are with me. Over the last couple of years, Mr. Riyaz has been working on my fitness he has played an important role in my comeback. Two years ago, I had a back issue; now I’m free from it. He has worked on my fitness and mental strength. He always gave me the belief that I can come back, and that self-belief made me come back. And my parents have been very supportive and never stopped me or came between my cricketing ambitions.
On her nickname, ‘Ninja’
That was a name kept by my Tamil Nadu cricket teammates. We had a session where we had to give everyone nicknames and that’s when it’s started. And now I am known more as Ninja than Niranjana.