It was a typical Veda knock. She began by hitting the fifth ball she faced for a boundary and over the course of the next 45 balls, went on to smash seven fours and two sixes, which swayed the momentum in India’s favour. The team accumulated 113 runs in the last 13 overs, with Raj playing the role of the anchor while Veda took the more aggressive route.
“My biggest strength is that I can hit the ball well from the very first ball. I don’t need time to settle down,” the 25-year old told CricketNext on the eve of the T20 series against England that kicks off on Monday in Guwahati.
In her next two outings, Krishnamurthy continued her fearless method, smashing an unbeaten 10-ball 16 in the semis against Australia and then following it up with a good hand of 35 off 34 in the summit clash. After a sublime stand of 95 between Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur in the finals against England, it was imperative that the run-rate kept ticking, which is exactly what Veda ensured. Batting with a strike-rate of 102.94, the player from Kadur in Karnataka took the game close, and though India was unable to clinch the title, there was no doubt that she had emerged from the tournament as one of the team’s batting pillars.
Equipped with good footwork, Krishnamurthy incorporated power hitting into her game during the event, which she feels is increasingly becoming a feature in women’s cricket.
“Power-hitting came into existence from the World Cup and it has kind of made women’s cricket more entertaining,” she says. “It is important that you have big shots to pace your innings, because when the field is at the boundary, you need to be able to pick boundaries and gaps.”
Her aggressive approach while batting earned her a maiden Women’s Big Bash League call-up in 2017-18 with Hobart Hurricanes. However, an iffy run of form thereon meant Veda did not return to play in the recently-concluded season. While her last ODI fifty came in February last year - when she scored back-to-back half centuries against South Africa at Kimberley and Potchefstroom - she has been inconsistent in T20Is, scoring only 133 runs in 16 T20I matches in the last twelve months with a highest of 29 at an average of 19.
In the World T20 last November in West Indies, Veda’s returns were even more disappointing, managing 24 runs from 5 innings at a lowly average of 8.
Her run of form meant she was dropped for the ODI series against New Zealand and England earlier this year and was also not considered for the T20Is against the White Ferns. However, Veda is quick to dismiss talk of technical snags in her game and instead blames the undue pressure that she had put on herself as the reason for her omission.
“The last ODI that I played was a year ago against England in March,” she recalls. “After the last 50 I got against South Africa, I have played just 5 ODIs.
“I have played a lot of T20Is after that and I failed to perform in them. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to perform well, which really affected my cricket. I feel somewhere if things don’t work out, a sportsperson tends to over-think, which is what leads to mistakes.
“It is important that being a sportsman you have a very clear head-space. I worked on my mental game a lot during the break and I am back to having a good mental balance. The break has given me a lot of time to work on my batting and more crucially on my mental toughness.”
Crediting her coaches Apurva Desaia and Irfan Sait for standing by her through this difficult time in her career, Veda also recounts a meeting with Gautam Gambhir that helped her remain determined while sitting out of the Indian team.
“I was fortunate to meet Gambhir at the airport and had a word with him,” she says. “I have been lucky to meet many former cricketers in the last few months and all of them advised me to sort everything in the head first. Sait Sir advised me that technically there are not many changes needed and that I should just enjoy myself.”
Veda is now back in the mix, recalled for the T20 series against England. She is hoping to carry her encouraging form on the domestic circuit into these games, and ensure she seals her spot in the side.
“Other than improving my match temperament, I have been choosing which balls to score runs against,” she says. “I want to pick my strengths and be wise in batting to hit the balls in that area. This is one aspect I’ve been trying to improve. I have had a decent domestic season and that will give me confidence. When I get down to bat, I want to concentrate on my strengths and play the shots that I’m comfortable with.”
First Published: March 4, 2019, 7:59 AM IST