She came, she saw and she conquered! Bowling all-rounder Sneh Rana produced one of the greatest performances on debut in the history of women’s Test cricket helping India out of the woods to pull off a stunning draw in the one-off Test against England Women at Bristol. After picking four wickets with her off-spin, the 27-year old Rana produced a match-saving unbeaten 80 off 154 deliveries batting out 184 deliveries for the ninth-wicket with Taniya Bhatia in what was a stunning display of grit, determination, skill and patience.
Born to a humble family in the foothills of Dehradun, Rana’s childhood was spent mastering tennis-ball cricket in the village of Sinola near Dehradun. Her father was a farmer by profession and would cycle 10-12 km every day to drop Rana to the Little Masters Cricket Academy in Dehradun where she harnessed her cricketing skills.
Rana made her limited over’s debut for India against Sri Lanka in 2014 and has played 7 ODIs and 5 T20Is for the country on the back of two impressive seasons for Punjab in which she took 32 List-A wickets. Her standout performance for India came against New Zealand in the first ODI in Bengaluru in 2015 when she returned with 3-26 in 9 overs helping her team defend a modest total of 142.
Rana missed the entire season in 2016 due to a knee injury and most pundits had written her off and there were doubts whether she would be able to make a comeback into the national team. But her hardwork and dedication paid off as the off-spinner returned with 18 wickets and was the highest wicket-taker in the Women’s Senior One Day Trophy 2020-21 playing the leading role with the ball in Railways’ title triumph. Rana returned with 18 wickets in 8 matches at a brilliant average of 12.66 and economy rate of 3.18. She also produced a high impact performance in the final against Jharkhand in Rajkot bagging 3 wickets conceding just 33 runs in her 10 overs.
Significantly, she also played the role of the aggressor in the middle order for Railways in the tournament hammering 160 runs at a strike rate of 123.07 with a best of 57 off 45 balls against Odisha. A former Railways captain, Rana was the captain of the India B side in the Quadrangular T20 Series, which was held in Patna in January 2020 and featured India A, Bangladesh and Thailand. Rana picked four wickets leading India B to the final.
Rana lost her father due to a heart attack earlier this year just days before being given a break in the Test team to England. It was her father’s dream to see his daughter make a comeback into the Indian team. The all-rounder had been out of the side for more than five years and last played for India in February 2016. She was not amongst those offered a central contract by the BCCI prior to the England tour.
Life will change for Rana after her majestic match-saving performance in the second innings for India. Those 80 runs she scored, 154 deliveries she faced and 195 minutes she spent at the crease at Bristol unearthed a new chapter in the history of women’s cricket for India.
After facing such adversity and loss to have the will, courage and strength to make a comeback and produce a performance of a lifetime shows what Rana is made of.
Her father would have been so proud.