Young Aparna Mondal is still taking baby steps in the world of cricket, although it has been over 8 years since she started playing at the professional level. Last year, at the age of 26, she got her big break when Delhi Capitals (DC) picked her up at a base price of INR 10 lakhs in the auction for the 2023 Women’s Premier League (WPL).
After not getting to play a single game, she was released by the franchise. However, DC bought him back in the last auction at her base price. Capitals’ Director of Cricket and former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly showed faith in her, saying that “the staff wanted” her.
Along with Aparna, the Capitals also bought Ashwani Kumar for INR 10 lakhs and Australian all-rounder Annabel Sutherland for a monstrous price of INR 2 crore in the auction.
Taniya Bhatia has always been DC’s first-choice keeper and Aparna may have to wait for her chances. But instead of fussing about not getting picked, the youngster focusses on keeping herself in shape for any chances that may come her way.
Idolising Adam Gilchrist and Alyssa Healy, while also being a big fan of Rishabh Pant’s fearless approach, Aparna has the potential to shine for the Capitals if she gets opportunities. From Bengal, Tamil Nadu to Railways, Aparna has changed her domestic teams frequently. In Railways, she juggles between work and cricket to keep alive her dreams of playing the game.
Recently, Aparna won the Senior Women’s One-Day Trophy with the Railways, who defeated Uttarakhand in the final. She rubbed shoulders with experienced cricketers in the form of Sneh Rana, Poonam Yadav, Renuka Thakur and Ekta Bisht.
Aparna, in the meantime, took time out of her chock-a-block schedule as India Today caught up with her for an exclusive interview where she talked about her journey, her favourites and being in the same franchise as Ganguly.
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Here are some excerpts from the interview with Aparna Mondal from the Delhi Capitals
How did cricket start for you, and what prompted to play the game?
I used to play gully cricket with boys. From there, I started developing an interest. I had a school friend whose brother used to practice at Vivekananda Park. There, I joined the Patha Chakra Cricket Club. Then I played for Bengal U19, U23 and senior teams. In 2022, I shifted to Tamil Nadu for job purposes and played for them last year, after which I got a chance for DC.
How much support did you get from your parents during your cricket career?
I always had support from my parents from the beginning. My parents were insecure about the prospects because women’s cricket was not as popular 7 to 8 years ago as it is now. But they never stopped me from playing and supported me fully.
How are you managing work and game?
It is tough, but since I got my work through the sports quota, playing stays my priority. We also have a relief duty where we practice in the morning, go to work and the return to practice in the evening.
How difficult was it to warm the bench last season, and how did you stay motivated?
It never bothers me whether I am playing or not. All I try to do is stay prepared for the match. If I think I am sitting out, it will demotivate me further. So, I try to stay ready so that when the opportunity comes, I can grab them with both hands.
Who did you idolise while growing up, and who is your current favourite?
My all-time favourite is Alyssa Healy. In my childhood, I also used to follow Adam Gilchrist and Sarah Taylor.
Who is your favourite Delhi Capitals cricketer, one each in the men’s and women’s team?
In the Capitals women’s team, Meg Lanning is my all-time favourite. In men’s cricket, it is Rishabh Pant because I like his aggression while batting, his keeping technique and the way he stays calm.
How excited are you to be in the same franchise with Sourav Ganguly? Have you had a chat with him?
Recently, I have not interacted with him. Last season, when we had an off-season camp, he came. That time, I interacted with him, and he gave me some tips, but not recently. Yes, I am excited to be in the same franchise with him because I already know this team and so, I do not have to do anything different to prepare myself. They know about me and vice versa.
Playing alongside the likes of Sneh Rana, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav and Renuka Thakur, how has the experience helped you?
I mostly interact with Poonam Yadav and Sneh Rana. But I talk mostly to Poonam because we have been on the same tours and camps for the last 2 years. I take suggestions from them whenever I face any issues. They are bowlers and so, the tips and suggestions they give help me. Otherwise, I have chit-chats with Ekta di, Renuka Singh and others.