15 Nov 2019
History was created in Rajasthan Royals’ home ground in Jaipur after the conclusion of Vivo IPL 2019. The inaugural season of the Women’s T20 Challenge was held at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. It was absolutely heartwarming to see the SMS packed with fans and almost full for the final. Rajasthan Royals hold women’s cricket very close to their hearts. The Royal Colts & Royal Sparks initiatives, launched last year, has seen a number of young boys and girls attend extensive camps and train under some of the best coaches. They supported the Royals all through the IPL, and beyond. It’s season time for these budding cricketers once again, and the Royal Sparks took part in a T20 game in Jaipur earlier in October. They kicked off their new season donning the pink jerseys that were passed on as part of the legacy by the senior team. The energy levels among the girls were very high from the moment the two captains walked onto to the field for the toss. The young Sparks cheered on for their captain in pink. Boys from the Pankaj Singh academy, the girls’ parents and support staff were all part of the audience for this inaugural match between Sparks U19 and PS Academy. The Royal Sparks got off to a slow start and appeared to be in a spot of bother after losing the wicket of their captain for a duck. The State Level bowlers from PS academy made the most of the morning freshness from the surface and had the Sparks under pressure by taking 2 more wickets in the first 5 overs. At the end of 5 overs, the Sparks were 20 for 3. The Sparks took it upon themselves to motivate the batters during this testing period. At the end of 10 overs, the Sparks managed to score 44 on the board and lost one more wicket. The match took a turn when power packed hitters like Dimple Kanwar and Yashasvi Katta came in to bat and started smashing the balls for boundaries. The duo built up a stunning 92-run partnership for the fifth wicket. The stand changed the entire mood in the Sparks camp and the spectators, as they got on to the last overs. The atmosphere was vibrant with the Sparks jumping & cheering with support at the boundary line. With the late burst, the Sparks managed to set a competitive target of 152 runs for the PS Academy. In the second innings, the Rajasthan state team’s opener, Jwala Devi Jatt started the innings strong, dispatching loose balls to the fence. The PS Academy raced to 56 runs in 5 overs. They continued to pile on the runs in the next five overs as well. The Sparks were in dire need of wickets. Nivedita Kaviya was brought on to bowl in the 11th over in the hunt for the first wicket. Nivedita came as the gamechanger, claiming Jwala’s wicket. The team grew in confidence with their coach guiding them to focus on every ball being bowled and tighten the fielding. The opener’s wicket started a landslide of sorts for PS Academy. The team in pink stepped up, and the crowd was right behind them, cheering for their bowlers & fielders. In what went on to become a close finish, the Sparks bowlers kept the Academy batters to 149 at the end of 20 overs. The Sparks did not give up, even though the odds were against them while they were batting and bowling. They exemplified Rajasthan Royals’ philosophy of winning from anywhere and played like true champions. Sairaj Bahutule, our spin bowling coach met with the Sparks girls right after their victory and shard some valuable tips. He wished them a great season ahead and motivated them further. The Sparks have warmed up with a tough game and will look to have a great time throughout the season.