It was January 2023. Amid an icy-cold winter in South Africa, 19-year-old Shweta Sehrawat opens the innings for India and scores an unbeaten 92* against South Africa in the first match. She set the tone for the rest of the tournament and went on to become the highest run-scorer of the World Cup, while being vice-captain, working side-by-side with captain, Shafali Verma. This was just the beginning of what was in store for the Delhi girl.
The second in our series Pitch Please, Shweta Sehrawat, is just what a 19-year-old should be like—fun-loving, unassuming, and confident. She’s a fiercely ambitious athlete for whom cricket is her world. From playing for Delhi at the state level and the Women's Under-19 Challenger Trophy and captaining both sides, to becoming the indomitable woman in blue and playing for UP Warriorz in the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL)—there’s much she’s achieved and has a long way to go.
Read on as she speaks to Cosmopolitan India about her tryst with the game and her dreams.
Cosmopolitan India: What inspired you to take up cricket?
Shweta Sehrawat (SS): My elder sister played cricket. I would tag along with my mother to the cricket academy and I play with my brother in one corner of the ground with a plastic ball and bat. Soon, I joined the academy and start training properly.
Cosmopolitan India: An article mentioned that you had to move out of your home to Vasant Kunj in Delhi to concentrate on your training; take us through the experience.
SS: I was very young when we moved, but cricket wasn’t the only reason for it. All I can remember is how quiet the society was and no one bothered me when I was practising or playing cricket all day long.
Cosmopolitan India: What were some of the challenges you faced?
SS: Honestly, I didn’t face the challenges my seniors might have. My parents, other family members, and friends were extremely supportive all along. My sister helped me get through my studies so that I could focus on cricket—she’s an engineer now. I completed my 12th grade and now I am pursuing English Honours in my first year of college.
Cosmopolitan India: How important is the support you receive from people around you?
SS: It’s especially essential for female athletes; as long as you have your family’s support, you don’t need anything else. Support and encouragement will always help you grow. Today, besides family and friends, the general public is also really supportive. At the WPL we’ve seen people come in huge numbers and cheer for us.
Cosmopolitan India: When did you decide that this is what you wanted to pursue?
SS: Almost as soon as I started; when I joined, I knew that cricket was it for me.
Cosmopolitan India: You played for the Delhi team at the state level and eventually for the Under 19 India team—take us through that journey.
SS: I’ve been the captain for Delhi for the last two years for the under-19 team. My first year wasn’t great, because I was inexperienced. Then, I started learning about captaincy—what it takes to be one, the role I have to play, and so on—and interacted with my seniors and coaches to learn and understand it better. In my second year as a captain, I became more aware of the kind of leader I wanted to be and the responsibilities I had to take on. Later, I was made the captain of the Challengers team, which was my first Women’s Challenger Trophy; until then I had only played at the state level. During those finals, we lost by only one run. It hurt me; I was emotional because I was the captain and we had played well throughout the series. Following that, we played the bilateral series with Sri Lanka and West Indies and India won under my captaincy. Many more wins followed and I was happy.
Cosmopolitan India: How did people react when you returned from South Africa after the World Cup?
SS: It was amazing. We had such a good welcome at the airport; we didn’t expect so many people to watch the World Cup because we were a U-19 girls’ team…but it was great. We were even invited to Ahmedabad to meet Sachin Sir (Sachin Tendulkar). That was an out-of-the-world moment.
Cosmopolitan India: How was the experience to become vice-captain for the under-19 India team that won the World Cup?
SS: It was amazing. Working with Shafali Verma (the captain) was a fun experience. She is a calm and relaxed person, especially with the U-19 team. Under her captaincy, no one felt left out and we all enjoyed together.
Cosmopolitan India: Is there any captain from the men’s or women’s team who inspires you?
SS: (MS) Dhoni. He is so calm and composed, and as a captain when you have to take decisions in the moment and under pressure, it’s only the calmness that comes to your aid. I look up to him even as a cricketer; he is one of the first players I have ever looked up to. His journey made me realise the power of hard work.
Cosmopolitan India: How do you, as a player and as a captain, deal with losing a game?
SS: If we lose a game, I momentarily get upset with the team in the dressing room, but by the next match, we’re focused and ready to play. Even during the World Cup, it felt horrible when we lost against Australia because we had beaten them in the warm-up games, but we came back stronger and it felt good that I was part of a team that was able to do this. At a personal level, I never feel elated or dejected—I believe, winning and losing is part of the game and you just have to move on.
Cosmopolitan India: How do you stay consistent in your practice?
SS: The only formula to consistency is: to trust the process. As long as you follow your process, you will be successful. I’ve experienced it.
Cosmopolitan India: How’s the atmosphere in the dressing room? Do you play music?
SS: It’s a very chill atmosphere in the dressing room. I listen to rock and dance music; my current favourite is Abhi toh party shuru hi hai.
Cosmopolitan India: How is the camaraderie with the team?
SS: I’m a very people person. I love when the team gets together to hang out off the field and outside of practice. I really enjoy that.
Cosmopolitan India: What is your biggest dream?
SS: For now, winning the next ODI World Cup.