ABOUT SAI SHIVANI
Hej! My name is Sai Devata and I am 18 years young. I come from a small village in Orissa but consider myself Bangalorean. A great chunk of my upbringing has been in Sweden and I remain thankful for all the wonderful things this country has given me. I am an IB Diploma graduate and I currently study biomedicine. With a passion for social service, I aim to open my own NGOs feed and educate the poor, contribute to disease research and fight for gender equality in developing countries. I play cricket for Malmöhus Cricket Club and have also recently become a part of the Swedish National Women’s team!
HOW AND WHEN DID SHE DEVELOP AN INTEREST IN SPORTS, ESPECIALLY CRICKET?
I was a tomboy growing up, so I was very interested in physical activities and sports. I have been dancing, swimming and doing karate from a young age. I moved on to badminton during middle school and competed for about five years. Cricket is something I have grown up watching a lot with my family and friends - plenty of IPL(Indian Premier League), the World Cup and many international series/ tournaments. The interest towards playing cricket came in July 2020, when I heard of Malmöhus Cricket Club. I had just left badminton and was looking to try something new, and cricket had knocked on my door.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN'S CRICKET IN SWEDEN AND HER JOURNEY
Joining Malmöhus has been one of the happiest decisions of my life. The atmosphere is very welcoming and there are a good mix of ages for different perspectives to blend in. Along with cricketing skills, fitness is given a high priority, which I really enjoy as it is a key to playing well in any sport. My journey with the club has been great, our captain (Kanchan Rana - di), team members and coaches have always been supportive, in all tournaments and practices. When I found out I was getting selected for the national team, I was happily surprised. I am thankful for this opportunity from David and his belief in me. The national team journey was fantastic, the people I met, the friends I made and the amount of lessons I took away from both my team and coaches. Each individual had a talent, something cracker worthy to bring to the table. The evening sessions were very informative as we were asked to build a brand identity for our team, identifying ourselves as the first 15 Swedish women that play for the National Team.
ABOUT GREAT EXPERIENCES AND AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT
The support of Jonty Rhodes throughout the entire tour was beyond extraordinary, his energy and passion, his feedback on both the game and mindset is so inspiring and motivating to hear. Training under him is an honour. I think what can be improved is an increase the number of practice matches we have here in Sweden for girls, there is a lack of league matches, I believe that an addition of these can further improve our skills and make us even better prepared for big tournaments.
CHALLENGES AND CONQUERING THEM
I think at times, I have struggled to keep calm under pressure situations and beat myself up too hard. This is feedback I have gotten from both coaches and teammates and I believe that improving this aspect of my game will help me grow as a cricketer. I think talking to people with experience always opens my mind and gives me a view on how they perceive the game and the situation. Our Malmöhus captain - Kanchan di - for instance, remains calm under pressure situations and it is something I will always look up towards. The Swedish National Captain Gunjan Shukla (also my di) also shows great captaincy when things are rough during the game. This gives me a perspective on their thinking process, and shows me how important it is to stay focused.
YOUR ROLE MODELS
Jasprit Bumrah has been one of my most favourite players. His bowling, his ability to take key wickets and how the entire team relies on him when things aren’t looking positive has inspired me a lot. I also want to contribute to my team whether it be in fielding, batting, bowling or even mental support/cheering them on. Shafali Verma is also very inspiring to me, she has accomplished so much at such a young age and it is so motivating to see.
HER CRICKET ROUTINE
During our tournament, we had practice three times a week which combined both fitness and cricket. However, now, I have also incorporated gymming into my routine to improve my fitness levels so I can become a faster bowler and a better fielder.
WISH FOR THE FUTURE
For the coming years, I hope to improve my technique in batting and also develop variations of fast bowling. I also want to keep my mindset positive and keep working hard when any opportunity is presented to me.
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT FOR YOUNG POTENTIALS (VIDEO)