Delhi girls shine in BCCI under-15 tournament

- December 12, 2023
| By : Khurram Habib |

Delhi girls ended as runners-up in the second edition of BCCI women’s under-15 tournament with wicketkeeper-batsman Nishika Singh, who trains for 10 hours a day, racking up close to 600 runs

In a start of the cricket season marked by disappointing performances from various Delhi teams, one of junior girls’ teams emerged as the bright spot, reaching the final of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) under-15 tournament before losing the title clash to Haryana.

In the lead-up to the final last week, where they lost to Haryana by eight wickets, the Delhi girls scored convincing wins beating Karnataka by 93 runs, Assam by 199 runs, J&K by 103 runs, Meghalaya by 357 runs, Nagaland by 417 runs before trumping Gujarat by 67 runs in the quarter-final and Mumbai by 76 runs in the semi-final.

“The kids were very raw. They were not up to mark in skill-work. We had a month-long camp at Shivaji College ground,” said Swapandeep Singh, coach of the team, who is a former junior state-level cricketer and has also played grade cricket in Australia.

This was the first coaching stint for Swapandeep, a BCCI Level 2 coach and the son of former India Test player Gursharan Singh.

“We decided to emphasise on fitness training in the first week and then in the second week, we went to nets for skill-work, with fitness being put on the back-burner.”

The third week was devoted to practice games and in the fourth, a core group was culled out. The core group of 12 played matches with the other girls and those who were part of the under-15 team last season and had gone past the age.


“In the final, we had scored 185 which was a good score. But the kids, being kids, got a bit frazzled on the big occasion and dropped a few catches which led to the loss. But it was a very good effort.”

As many as 65 girls had turned up for open trials and 35 were picked before some of them were disqualified due to over-age.

“The DDCA provided us with the ground at Shivaji College for the camp besides other facilities like breakfast, lunch and everything the girls needed. The full ground was available for two days and the nets for four days. The association’s help made things easy,” said Swapandeep.

This was the second year of the U-15 tournament. Last year, in the inaugural edition, Delhi lost in the quarter-finals.

Rajni Sharma, the chairperson of the junior women’s selection committee, said that the under-15 level players are better nowadays.

“Earlier, the U-15 players did not know how to play at all. But now the girls are good. They know how to play lofted shots and drives. Some of them can also spin the ball. The matches were of 35-overs-a-side. But we thought that the girls are capable of lasting 50 overs,” she said.

Rajni pointed to a challenge they had to face.

“They are very young. Some of them got homesick (Delhi played league games in Kolkata and the knockouts in Mohali). We have to guide them and encourage them,” she added.

Among the performers were wicketkeeper-batsman Nishika Singh, all-rounder Avleen Kaur, who bowls off-spin, batsman Sonakshi and left-arm spinner Archana, according to Rajni.

Nishika Singh

Nishika also represented the Delhi under-19 team in one-dayers and T20s this year and scored four fifties for them.

The 14-and-a-half-year-old, who also represented the U-15s in last year’s inaugural edition, racked up 595 runs and effected 15 dismissals behind the stumps. She hit three centuries. Her tally of runs was the highest in the U-15 tournament.

Father Khajan Singh, a government school teacher, who used to play for MCD in the DDCA league, is her coach.

“I had to quit playing league cricket after her birth in 2009. She started learning cricket at the age of six. I coach her,” says Khajan.

Khajan, who mostly goes on leave without pay as he is focussing on his daughter’s cricket, took a cricket ground on rent to ensure proper practice for her.

“I have a ground where I train some neighbourhood kids who come from underprivileged background to ensure that Nishika has company. I lease out the ground for corporate games.”

Khajan wakes Nishika up at four in the morning and by quarter to five or five, she is ready for running and fitness drills.

“Sometimes she runs for an hour at the ground. The fitness session lasts for 2-3 hours and after a rest of half an hour which includes breakfast, she is at the nets for skill development which includes knocking,” says Khajan.

There is then a break of two hours.

“At two, she returns to the nets session which lasts for five hours till seven in the evening, even under lights. She is preparing for about 10 hours every day. She used to attend [Vidya Jain] school [in Kanjhawala] for academics before Covid. But post-Covid she has stopped going and attends classes only in case of emergency.”

Sonakshi scored 464 runs in eight matches with one century while Avleen Kaur hit 233 in eight games and also picked 14 wickets.